24 ways to pack a nutrient dense, healthy school lunch your child will actually eat:
1. Keep it simple – You should be able to throw this together in five minutes or less – ideally in the morning, so you can send hot or cold foods.
Use leftovers when possible and make a few things on Sunday to have for the week, like rice or quinoa, a roast chicken, or cut up carrots.
2. Don’t experiment – Stick with foods you know your kid likes. Now’s not the time to try something new.
3. Include lots of saturated fat – This is essential for sustained energy and brainpower.
4. Skip the pre-packaged junk – This should go without saying, but no bags of chips, packages of crackers or cookies – even if they’re “organic” and all natural.
Instead of gummy snacks or sugary baked goods, send sliced fruit, blueberries, grapes or raisins everyday. One exception to packaged foods: If you kid likes it, toss in a pack of dried seaweed for a salty, crunchy, mineral-rich alternative to chips.
Check that it’s made with olive or sesame oil, not canola or other newfangled fats.
5. Stock up – Invest in a good thermos to keep foods hot or cold. Buy some good stainless steel lunch containers to keep foods separate and avoid the mess and waste of plastic bags.
Make a list of the staples you need on hand for quick, last-minute lunches. At my house it’s the fixin’s for a peanut butter and raw honey sandwich on sprouted bread and carrots from our local farmer.
6. Make classic sandwiches – Tuna fish, egg salad, meatloaf, roast chicken – with raw cheese, and layered with homemade mayo for a great addition of fat and nutrients. Use a sprouted grain or traditionally soured bread.
7. PB & J…improved – Organic nut butter on sprouted grain toast drizzled with raw honey. Feel free to add a layer of butter for extra fat. Another option: sliced bananas.
8. Do the dip – Sliced carrots or veggies of choice with full-fat Greek yogurt or sour cream mixed with soy sauce for dipping.
9. Skip the bread – Cubes of raw cheese with leftover roast chicken or other meat from dinner and some cucumber slices.
10. Homemade “pizza” – Sprouted toast topped with butter, tomato sauce, and a sprinkle of cheese from grass-fed cows, melt in a toaster oven or under the broiler.
11. Snack as lunch – Guacamole with homemade tortilla chips (cut and fry sprouted grain tortillas in coconut oil, butter or pastured lard), slices of raw cheese on the side.
13. Breakfast for lunch – Scrambled eggs with bacon cooked the night before or leftover from the weekend, warmed in the morning and sent in a thermos.
Oatmeal – make it on the weekend by soaking oats overnight and cooking in the morning. Reheat in a frying pan by adding a bit of water to reach desired consistency. Top it with butter, raw cream, sliced fruit or raisins, and a drizzle of raw honey or grade B maple syrup.
14. Stretch out Sunday – Leftover french toast cooked in lots of butter with a side of grade B maple syrup and fruit. Warm the toast in the am, and send in a thermos.
15. Homemade granola – Send of with a side or raw milk or full-fat yogurt. Recipe here, at the bottom of this post.
16. Dinner as lunch – Warm up your kid’s favorite leftovers in the morning and pack in a thermos.
17. Taco Tuesdays – Wrap leftover meat (shredded chicken, crumbled hamburger, or whatever you have) in a corn tortilla. Top with shredded cheese. Send a side of Greek yogurt, guacamole, and salsa for extra fat and extra fun.
18. R & B to go – Cook rice and beans separately in homemade broth over the weekend, then heat and top with butter and raw cheese, and send to school in a thermos.
19. Roll-ups – Use organic free-range turkey slices to wrap up goat cheese or raw cheddar, avocado and a sliver of carrot.
20. Healthy, fast “Mac n cheese” – Heat left-over rice or quinoa with lots of butter. Top with some full fat yogurt or cream and a handful of shredded raw cheese. Add some frozen organic peas or other veggies you have on hand only if your kid likes them, and send in a thermos.
21. Smoothies – Mix frozen berries or other fruit with full-fat yogurt and a drizzle of raw honey. Blend and send in a thermos.
22. Fruit and yogurt parfait – Full-fat Greek yogurt with sliced fruit, slivered almonds, and a drizzle of raw honey.
23. Homemade banana or zucchini bread – Substitute with persimmons or whatever else is in season. Make with wholesome pastured eggs, real butter or coconut oil, sprouted flour, and natural sugar.
Make a double batch on the weekend a freeze a loaf for later. Here’s a recipe for grain-free pumpkin bread, but you can easily substitute zucchini or bananas for the pumpkin.
24. For extra (nutrient dense) credit – Skip the juices which are basically liquid junk. Instead, send a thermos of whole raw milk (add some raw cream for extra fat) – add a sprinkle of cinnamon if your kid likes it like that.
To make sure it stays nice and cold, add a few raw milk ice cubes (frozen ahead of time).
What are your top tips to packing a healthy school lunch?