My boys are getting older (sniff sniff) my oldest is actually going into middle school next year. Just saying those words “middle school” makes my heart hurt, I can’t believe he is at that stage already. I read an article recently that mentioned 10 things children should be doing on their own once they hit middle school, I’d say we are more than half way there, but there are a few things this mother needs to loosen up on.
One thing my boys have been doing for awhile now is helping make lunches. I’ve got to say it’s gotten a bit challenging finding things that they will eat in school. Lunches I once served I can’t anymore because they just won’t eat them for one reason or another (peer pressure) and it was driving me crazy to see almost a whole lunch coming home or worse…it being thrown away. One way I’ve gotten around this dilemma (for the most part) is by giving my the boys the power to choose for themselves what they want for lunch. They help with the planning of the lunches for the week and even make their own. I am giving them the choice and they are choosing foods that they will actually eat. My only request is that they choose healthy foods and we compromise and I let them order lunch once a week.
HEALTHY LUNCHES KIDS CAN PREPARE THEMSELVES
PBJ – To make this a healthier option we use organic fresh peanut butter with a natural preserve apple or pumpkin butter.
SMOKED SALMON – Served on a multi-grain bagel and cream cheese
TURKEY & CHEESE – Sandwiches can be healthy. Choose no preservative turkey and a healthier option cheese and serve it on a type of bread that doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup and other additives.
VEGGIE CREAM CHEESE SPREAD – Make your own cream cheese spread with fresh veggies and the kids can dip with veggies, spread it on crackers or serve it in a wrap.
PIZZA BAGELS – Using english muffins as the base then spread with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and any other toppings they like. Bake them in the morning if you have time or the night before and have they eat it at room temperature.
TUNA OR CHICKEN SALAD – You can make a sandwich or serve with crackers or even carrot or celery sticks
HUMMUS – Serve with fresh veggies and crackers
HOMEMADE LUNCHABLES – DON’T ever buy store bought lunchables, they are filled with nothing but preservatives, additives and sodium. Making your own can be easy and takes no time at all.
BREAKFAST FOR LUNCH – Homemade french toast sticks or pancakes
KABOBS – Mini kabobs can be really fun and mix it up with cubed chicken, cheese and veggies
PASTA SALAD – Ask your kids what veggies they want and also have them pick out their favorite dressing
SIDE DISHES & SNACKS
At my request I have the boys choose at least one fruit. We have a drawer in the fridge and bowl on the counter full of fresh fruit at all times. They can easily grab whatever they want for lunches or as a snack throughout the day. Here are some of our favorite sides to go with our main lunches that the kids can put together on their own. Some of the options I make ahead of time so they can just grab and go.
FRUIT KABOBS – the kids will love making these and they can choose their own fruits
SLICED APPLES WITH DIPPING SAUCE – The kids can use a apple cutter to make their own slices and use small containers for the peanut butter or honey for dipping.
FRUIT LEATHER – Have you ever tried making your own? Super easy and much less expensive than buying.
YOGURT – My kids love any of the Stonyfield choices so we mix it up with cups, squeezes or smoothie drinks. They also love to top yogurt with homemade granola.
VEGGIES & DIP – At the beginning of the week cut up a ton of fresh veggies so the kids can easily grab what they want and have hummus or their favorite dressing on hand so they can dip.
MUFFINS – Make a big batch of muffins and freeze so when you want one just take out and let defrost in the lunch box.
CHEESE – Purchase healthier cheeses that you can easily cube or purchase organic cheese sticks
HARD BOILED EGGS – My youngest could eat hard boiled eggs everyday. I make them at the beginning of the week and then put them in his lunch and also use in salads for myself.
I cannot stress enough…WATER! WATER! WATER! Use a reusable BPA free water bottle and fill it with water. You can even freeze it the night before and it can double as a ice pack in the lunch. If your child doesn’t like water you can also make smoothies too.
The key is to have food available for your children to choose themselves so they feel they are in control of the lunches they bring to school. When your child creates their own lunch they are more apt to eat it which makes everyone happy. What are some of your favorite healthy lunch creations that your kids love?
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Be sure to check out each of their Mini Chef posts as well!
- S’mores Stacks // Courtney’s Sweets
- Pesto Made with Peas // Momma Lew
- Strawberry Mango Italian Ice // Baby Loving Mama
- Chicken and Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich // We’re Parents
- Whole Wheat Oatmeal Fudge Bars Recipe // Eating Richly Even When You’re Broke
- Breakfast Naan Pizza // Giggles, Gobbles and Gulps
- Slow Cooker Bean Tortellini Soup // Vegging at the Shore
- Healthy Lunches Kids Can Prepare Themselves // O’Boy! Organic
- Candy Pizza // Can’t Google Everything