EASY SCHOOL LUNCH IDEAS

easy-nut-free-school-lunch-ideas I love a fancy bento box (I wish someone would make one for me), they look so great. And I’m sure every kid who is lucky enough to get a pinterest worthy lunch everyday is jumping up and down excited to eat their lunch. I really wish I was bento box savvy lunch packer, I mean the kids lunch boxes have separators like a bento box but I don’t think I pack it fancy or very creatively. We often use a thermos for warm meals, but that also often doesn’t get eaten because it takes more work to open and my kids would rather just talk instead of doing that. So I send them with things I know they will eat (or will eat, since Harlow starts tomorrow – alll the tears), healthy things. Here are 5 of our go-to sandwich (or sandwich like) lunch ideas and a list of go-to items the kids love for sides.

avocado-BLT B.L.A.T

It really just rolls off your tongue doesn’t it? “I want a BLAT, for lunch!” . But whatever, it’s good and I didn’t make it up. Bacon, Lettuce (I sub spinach in, cause it’s better), Tomato (very thinly sliced for my kids), Avocado and Vegenaise. It’s a real winner around here and take no time. Trick is, to keep a few slices of bacon from a weekend breakfast and put them aside (that’s the hard part). And make the sandwich that morning or the avocado will get all BLAT like.

sunbutter-honey-and-banana SUNBUTTER, BANANA AND HONEY

Nuts are a big no-no in our school and probably in yours too. Peanut butter and Jam sandwiches are basically a kids lunchtime dream and mom’s too, so easy. But we found a safe school friendly substitute, Sunbutter. It’s made from Sunflower seeds, no nuts at all. I always include a little note, informing the lunch room supervisor that it’s sunbutter and it’s nut free – because it looks like nut butter and they might rush my kid off to eat in the office if they think it is. Sunbutter, sliced bananas, and drizzed raw honey. *there is also something called Wowbutter, made from soy – but we try to eat as little soy as possible around here, other than tofu every once in a while.

mini-cracker-sandwiches CRACKER SANDWICHES

Some of the lunches that get five stars, especially from King are the ones that are interactive. No they don’t move, ewww gross. But ones he has to build or take apart to eat. Cracker sandwiches are a big hit, all you need to do is send a stack of crackers, cut up slices of cheese, a veggie of choice and a sliced meat – they build and eat at lunch time. Crackers, cheese slices, spinach leafs and roast turkey.

strawberry-and-cream-cheese-wraps STRAWBERRY AND CREAM CHEESE WRAPS

Sorta like a sub in for peanut butter and jam. Cream cheese acts as the protein and sliced fresh strawberries as the jam, basically it’s sorta the same just way better. My kids prefer it in a wrap, they say it’s like sushi (but it only takes 1 min to prepare). Tortilla wrap, sliced strawberries and cream cheese.

mini-pitzas MINI PITZAS

These are a huge hit. I have been letting them kids choose their ingredients, (usually whatever we have in the fridge), and then they make them for supper one night (key word, they). We a ton and either freeze the leftovers or put the in the fridge and use them for lunches that week. I fully planned to always make my own pizza dough for this, but found these mini pitas at the grocery store and we use pasta sauce, because we usually have some of that leftover in the fridge too. Mini pita, pizza or pasta sauce, chopped veggies, and maybe chopped meat and cheeeeese.

When it comes to lunches, low prep is always a good idea in my books. I often do a small batch of healthy baking each week, so the kids have cookies or muffins in their lunches (these banana oatmeal cups are a great go-to) – again trying to make a lot and freezing. These are our go-to’s for the main portion of the lunch, but I often pack leftovers from our meal the night before depending on what it was. These black bean quesadillas are usually a hit and Quinoa Fried Rice (when I’m feeling like risking the thermos).

As far as sides, I usually pick 3 or 4. Something carby, something sweet, something veggie or fruit and something with more protein (I try to shoot for balance, try):

  • hardboiled eggs
  • edamame
  • cucumbers, baby carrots, sliced peppers, broccoli, sugar snaps, spinach leaves
  • seaweed snack or kale chips
  • nut free bar (if there is a sale)
  • cheddar bunnies
  • dried mango slices
  • fruit of seasonal choice
  • cookies or muffin
  • raisins, dried cranberries, maybe a prune (my kids love them) and some seeds
  • ants on a long (sunbutter, celery and rasins)
  • babybel cheese wheels
  • healthy chips or popcorn

For more awesome lunch ideas from around the web: 100 Day of Real Food School Roundup | 10 Nut Free School Lunches | An Entire month of nut free lunches

Do you have a great go to lunch idea? Please share!



EVERYDAY EATS

everyday-eats [sriracha chicken bowl + quinoa burger]

It took me a while to get my act together, but I finally gathered up some of our favorite go-to (family) meals. After this food prep post and this detox post (this isn’t really a detox food post though, see above) many asked if I could share some of our favorite recipes. Soooo, if you like to eat delicious things like that quinoa burger above (it’s as good as it looks, just FYI) or just looking for some awesome meals (that are based on pretty simple ingredients) to add to your meal planning list, you’ll probably enjoy our list of EVERYDAY EATS. And yes, both kids eat all the things on that board – it just wouldn’t be a true everyday eat without everyone eating it.

*I created a pinterest board with our tried and true favorites (the ones that are online, that is), this is totally separate from all my other food boards – and just the easiest way to share.

WEEKLY FOOD PREP: SUMMERTIME

weekly-food-prep-for-the-summer-months Once summer hits I find we are home way less, which means there is barely enough time to cook a meal – if it’s not too hot to cook. The house is usually in a constant state of mess, more than usual that is. And I always always feel like I’m behind on life as soon as we step in the door (and probably the whole day, to be honest). I try my best to plan ahead, but have taken things to a more controlled type A personality type level, this year. This is how I prep for the summer weeks (It’s a bit different than in the fall and winter), to make sure we all stay eating well and there are zero surprise “let’s go grab some take out because I forgot to thaw/prep for dinner” moments.

meal plan MEAL PLAN (ALWAYS MEAL PLAN).

I cannot grocery shop with out a plan. Well I can, but I always end up over spending and then having to visit the store a few extra times during the week to grab things I forgot – a waste of time and money. So I meal plan (usually Sunday nights, because I like to shop Monday or Tuesday mornings when it’s quiet and the stores are just getting restocked from the weekend). I usually sit (probably while the kids play and make another mess) with my pad of paper and Pinterest food boards and make a list for the week.

wash fruit and veggies WASH ALL THE FRUITS AND VEGGIES.

Fill the sink with cool water, mix in 1 cup of vinegar and then toss in your fruit and veggies as the groceries get unpacked. Letting them soak for 10 minutes, as soon we come home from the store makes it easier for the kids to just grab a snack during the week and let’s me skip the whole washing step when cooking prep time comes.

chop and peel veggies CHOP AND PEEL.

There are some veggies that take a bit of extra time to chop, but can keep well for a while once chopped. In the summer I like to pre-chop and peel vegetables for salads and snacks (and stuff), it takes out half the work for later and it makes throwing a salad together or grabbing cut up red peppers instead of crackers much easier. I like to chop red onion, red peppers, carrots, de-stem and break apart kale.

wash cut peel and chop veggies COOK AHEAD.

Those things that can easily thrown into salads or added to a meal, but can take a bit of time just on their own getting them all ready to be eaten. I like to prep and cook a few beets, a few hard-boiled eggs, chick peas (or whatever beans and legumes I’m into using that week) and quinoa. If I ever make too much, quinoa (never happens) or chickpeas – I freeze them, which then makes the following weeks prep super-duper easy. *I recently started cooking my dried beans and legumes in the slow cooker, much better and more fool-proof then soaking all night and then cooking.

prepare hearty salads ahead of time MAKE HEARTY SALADS.

Sometimes it’s a pain to stay indoors and cook for long periods in time in the summer, but maybe that’s just me and my tiny kitchen. At the beginning of the week, I try to make a couple (depending on how much room my fridge has) hearty salads to keep covered in the fridge. Often I will leave the dressing (and less hearty vegetables, like spinach) on the side and we can add that to each portion later. This makes lunch time a no brainer (especially packing lunch for Chris). Also it’s a good fall back for a dinner side when I’m feeling lazy (let’s say about 5 days out of the week). This quinoa salad (a twist on this recipe), broccoli salad, and chickpea salad  from the oh she glows cookbook (for quick sandwiches) are some of our favorites.

mix cereal and salad dressings MIX AND PUT ASIDE.

Mix breakfast, salad dressings and marinades. For all the same reasons, if you prep and pre-make it, it will make eating and eating healthier so much easier. For breakfast I make a version of overnight oats but just let it sit for about 20 mins in the am and its good to be eaten – usually I pre-mix because my concoction of nuts, seeds, and grains is a bit confusing for my husband. Same goes for salad dressing, if I know I’m going to need it that week making at least one of them ahead of time will take all the work out of making an extraordinary salad later.

PACK AND PREPARE.

Often if we have our day planned out, I will pack snacks, a hearty salad and some sandwiches in my backpack when we head out for the day. This way we don’t have to rush back for lunch and we won’t be so hungry that we grab some pizza or something else while we are out. Basically this plan let’s the kids play outside allll day long, no interruptions.

MOST PHOTOS TAKEN BY: KINGSTON

Do you have any weekly meal prep tricks? How is summertime for you, do you find it harder to keep up? Find some of our favorite go-to meals here.