Monday, January 9, 2012

Green and healthy lunch box ideas

Packing a healthy school lunch is tough enough, but when everything seems to be out of season, it feels far more challenging to pull together something fresh and healthy.

Still, you're not reduced to serving "fruit" snacks or bleached baby carrots as your only options. Here are some fast solutions for fixing school lunches that are as easy to pack as to manage at school.

Main dishes
The main event doesn't have to be a boring peanut butter on plain bread sandwich. With a little flexibility you can easily shake up your "sandwich" into something more creative.

  • Choose homemade breads, flat breads or crackers.

  • Even serve almond butter on banana or applesauce bread for something different.

  • Go 'round by creating wraps.

  • Slice cooked chicken or cheeses into strips.

  • Serve chicken or ham chunks, cheese and small veggie chunks as as "kabobs" on toothpicks.

  • Don't forget your thermos. Just a few hot meals packed in a thermos, and you'll come out ahead of hot lunches. My daughter has enjoyed spaghetti made with homemade - and homegrown - pasta sauce, and lo mein and other dishes are easily packed for a fun menu choice.

Winter veggies and fruits
It takes mere minutes to slice carrots into coin shapes or sticks, yet it's a far better alternative than bleached baby carrots. And if you can get some locally grown carrots - yes, even in January - you're in for a better treat!

If you have a salad lover, grab some winter lettuces; just pack your salad separate from the dressing, or your child could have a soggy mess by mealtime.

For an easy dip, drop the bottled ranch dressing and substitute dressing mix mixed with plain Greek yogurt.

And dont forget your seasonal fruits, which are suprisingly hardy (good for those of us whose children routinely whip those lunchboxes around!). Think apples, oranges, tangerines, tangelos, and pears. You could even add some homemade honey-yogurt dip for a fun option. Dried fruits tossed with nuts help meet that sweet tooth too.

What other options do you like for an easy - and healthy - school lunch alternative?

This post is part of the Healthy Child Network carnival on green and healthy lunch ideas.


Sarah said...

I love the kabob idea for kids lunches, also enjoyed looking at your seed list on pininterest. Thanks!

Bethesda Locavore said...

Well, this isn't entirely a food suggestion, but I got a PlanetBox for my daughter. It's like a stainless steel bento box and is just an amazing lunchbox in its own right, but what I really like about it in terms of healthy foods is that somehow with those compartments, it REMINDS me to pack a veggie component - like one of those compartments is supposed to be for veggies, so I'd better come up with some veggies! (And then I try to pack something from the farmers' market. Haven't mastered creativity there.)

Lindsay said...

My son isn't in school yet, but personally I love trying different kinds of jams and jellies with my peanut butter on whole wheat. Oh and pumpkin butter is amazingly delicious.

And did you mention hard boiled eggs? I didn't notice it, but I'm not very awake yet, lol.

Your post is definitely making me hungry!

Dinah said...

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Erica @ ChildOrganics said...

I'm enjoying the Simple Food cookbook by Alice Waters. I'm learning the addition of a flavorful sauce such as an aioli or vinaigrette can really bring out the flavor of simple veggies and sandwiches.

Robbie said...

Erin, thanks for the suggestion! I will check out the book.