It’s that time of year again where activities start overlapping, the great outdoors are calling, school is winding down.
The last thing we want to think about is making another boring school lunch.
Let’s not lose that momentum just yet on creating nutritious and delicious lunches that fuel our kids’ bodies and minds as they work their way through these last few days of school.
Proper nutrition is one of the best lessons we can instill in our children to help them stay alert, grow strong and healthy and make good choices. So here are a few ideas to help you keep those creative juices flowing for just a little longer, and hey, you might even want to try some of these for yourself!
The first thing to come to my mind when I try to think of ways to get my kids to eat healthier is dips – kids love to dip! Not all dips are created equal however.
Make your own lower fat, higher calcium dips at home simply with plain Greek yogurt and your favorite herbs and spices.
For dairy free options make your own lower sodium hummus, guacamole or bean dips to go with veggie sticks, whole grain crackers, or you can even spread these on your favorite wraps or sandwiches for added fibre and healthy fats.
One of the greatest tools in our lunchbox arsenal is the trusted old Thermos!
One of my daughter’s favorite snacks at school is oatmeal. Save a little money and cut out a lot of sugar by making your own “instant” version with old fashioned rolled oats. All you need to do is add the oats, boiling water, maybe a little cinnamon and/or bit of brown sugar or maple syrup, stir it, close up the Thermos and it will be perfect for snack time. Get even more creative with different spices or dried fruits.
Thermoses can be used so many different ways. From your traditional soups (try spicing them up with Epicure’s sansels for some added flavor without the salt!). To fruit salads (dressed with honey, lime and a sprinkling of Epicure’s fruit dips mixes or simply just cinnamon). Or a nice side dish such as couscous (prepared the same way as the oatmeal but with a more savoury spice), reheated veggies, or even mac & cheese. Try Epicure’s lower sodium version that uses real ingredients and allows you to use your own whole wheat or gluten free pasta, or any other pasta you prefer).
Now let’s move on to our main.
One non-traditional option that my daughter and I love is a banana wrap. Simply spread a nut free butter such as Wowbutter or Superbutter (no nuts at school please!) onto a small tortilla, lay a peeled banana on top and roll it up! You can also sprinkle a little cinnamon or pure cocoa for added flavour and antioxidants.
How about making your own sushi to send to school? This couldn’t be easier with Epicure’s silicone Perfect Petites pan.
Simply layer one strip of nori (optional) into each section. Then scoop a layer of prepared sushi rice, spread on your favorite Asian style sauce. Add your favorite veggies cut into matchsticks (i.e. carrots, cucumbers, avocados, peppers, etc.). Then perhaps some small shrimp or imitation crab meat. Top it off with another layer of sushi rice, press down firmly and chill.
They will pop out into perfectly portioned sushi bites!
Other great bite-sized options include crustless quiches, spinach squares, or mini meatloaves.
Some great make-ahead snacks include granola bars, mini banana loaves, muffins or your favorite homemade cookies!
All done with shorter cooking times in Epicure’s Perfect Petites pan, saving you more time in the kitchen!
Fun fact: Did you know all of Epicure’s products are 100% nut free and gluten free? That makes them safe to send to school provided they aren’t mixed with ingredients containing nuts.
Start getting your kids involved in their own lunch making at an early age and guide them along the way. This is one of the best ways to teach them proper nutrition and how to make healthy food choices now and for the rest of their lives.
I have many more years of school lunches ahead of me. My oldest is in Grade 3 and my youngest Grade 1! So I would love to hear your favorite healthy and creative lunch ideas. Comment below with your best tips and favourite lunch ideas.
Now rejoice! We are in the lunchbox homestretch!