Have you seen school lunches lately? Recently I was working with a local elementary school to improve their school lunch program and provide some healthy lunch ideas for kids. Many parents were upset with the options that were available for school lunch. The food was so processed and lacked nutrients that many parents chose to pack a lunch for their child or children everyday. The school provided me with a sample menu for the month from the current caterer: pizza, soft pretzels with cheese (yup, that was the whole lunch), hamburgers and fries, corn dogs, chicken tenders, lasagna, pulled pork sandwiches, beef tacos, and chocolate milk. Not a lot of variety – school lunch nutrition was definitely lacking.
The school did include a side vegetable a couple times per week which were things like peas, corn, and carrots with ranch dip. Mainly higher carbohydrate vegetables and processed dips. Fruit was listed on the menu simply as that: fruit. I guess a mystery fruit was going to be served that day. One of the parents told me that the side of fruit was usually a fruit cup (packed with sugar) or a small piece of whole fruit that the kids often tossed in the trash.
The high school lunch menu was even worse. These meals were catered by local fast food establishments. Again, faced with a lack of nutritious options, many parents chose to pack their kids’ lunches. I can’t say that I blame them.
Healthy eating habits are best introduced at a young age. I know this may be easier said than done, but hopefully this post will give you some inspiration to give it a go – or at least give you some new ideas for healthy lunches. The school year is drawing to a close but it is never too late to get started.
Smart Planet Perfect Portion kits make packing lunches so easy. One section holds 1 1/2 cups, one holds 2 cups, and the other two slots hold 1/2 cup each. This makes it so easy for kids (or adults) to eat a balanced meal. Use the handy portion suggestions on the back of the tag (seen in the picture above) to help you decide what food groups to pick from. I think kids would even enjoy helping plan what foods should go in what compartments.
Smart Planet meal kits are made of silicone and are BPA free, very eco-friendly. They are collapsible which makes it easy for travel, or store in a small backpack when lunch is over. I remember as a kid trying to shove my lunch box into my bag after school, but my books took up to much room and I had to carry it home with me instead. I wish they had kits like these when I was in school!
Packing a healthy school lunch does require some thought and planning, but if you have only healthy food in the house then you can’t go wrong. I have gathered some fun recipes and suggestions for school lunches that would be great to try out on your kids. Get them involved as much as possible and don’t give up! Don’t forget to check out the GIVEAWAY for your very own Smart Planet Portion Perfect Meal Kit at the very end of the post!*
Here is a collection of recipes from my blog, as well as other nutrition and wellness blogs I recommend. Enjoy!
Kale Chips with Spicy Yogurt Dip by The Organic Dietitian
Southwest Sweet Potatoes by The Organic Dietitian
Super Easy Veggie Sushi by Active Vegetarian
Crispy Eggplant Fries by Mason Jar Salads
Spinach Broccoli Bites by Mason Jar Salads
Veggie Faces by Two Healthy Kitchens
Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies by The Organic Dietitian
Homemade Granola by The Organic Dietitian
Homemade Graham Crackers by The Organic Dietitian
Pasta Salad with Dill, Lemon, and Chive Vinaigrette by Peace Meal
Creamy Mac and Peas by Veggies Don’t Bite
Vegan Mac and Cheese by Veganosity
Power Breakfast Muffins by Strength and Sunshine
Whole Wheat Seed Crackers by Elephantastic Vegan
Apple Spiced Muffins by The Organic Dietitian
Strawberry Banana Oat Muffins by The Organic Dietitian
Blueberry Walnut Breakfast Cookies by The Organic Dietitian
Raspberry Almond Squares by Unconventional Baker
Caramelized Apple Nut Squares by Unconventional Baker
3 Ingredient Sugar Cookies by The Organic Dietitian
Flourless Apple Cinnamon Cookies by Hummusapien
Apple Crisp Yogurt by The Organic Dietitian
Pumpkin Yogurt with Ginger Snap Granola by The Organic Dietitian
Spiced Tofu Fingers by Tinned Tomato
Nopales Black Bean and Potato Rolled Tacos by Veggies Don’t Bite
Strawberry Peanut Butter Quesadillas by Two Healthy Kitchens
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Hummus by The Organic Dietitian
Apple Cheddar and Ham Rolls (I like Applegate deli slices because they are nitrate free) by Babble
Rainbow Wraps with Fruit by Lunch Box Bunch
Fig Bites by The Organic Dietitian
Pumpkin Apple Fruit Leather by The Organic Dietitian
Chocolate Dipped Clementines by The Comfort of Cooking
Caramel Apple “Cookies” by The Glowing Fridge
Homemade Strawberry Fruit Snacks by Cupcakes and Kale Chips
*This giveaway has ended.
One lucky winner will win one Smart Planet Perfect Portion Meal Kit. Color to be chosen by Smart Planet. Only open to US residents. Winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter. Contest runs from 3/27/15- 4/1/15 at midnight. Smart Planet is sponsoring this giveaway but all opinions are my own. See below to enter the giveaway and good luck.