24 ways to pack a nutrient dense, healthy school lunch your child will actually eat:
- 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.
- Don’t experiment – Stick with foods you know your kid likes. Now’s not the time to try something new.
- Include lots of saturated fat – (This is essential for sustained energy and brainpower). Don’t be shy – butter, whole fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, bacon, avocado, nuts, etc are your secret lunch weapons. Use liberally.
- 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: Toss in a pack of dried seaweed (if your kid likes it) 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.
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 farmer).
- 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.
- PB&J improved – Organic nut butter on sprouted grain toast drizzled with raw honey (add a layer of butter for extra fat). Option: add sliced bananas.
- Do the dip – Sliced carrots or veggies of choice with full-fat Greek yogurt or sour cream mixed with soy sauce for dipping.
- Skip the bread – Cubes of raw cheese with leftover roast chicken or other meat from dinner and some cucumber slices.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Or oatmeal (Make 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 with butter, raw cream, sliced fruit or raisins, and a drizzle of raw honey or grade B maple syrup.
- Stretch out Sunday – with 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.
- Homemade granola with a side or raw milk or full-fat yogurt. Recipe at the bottom of this post.
- Dinner as lunch – Warm up your kid’s favorite leftovers in the morning and pack in a thermos.
- 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.
- 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.
- Roll-ups – Use organic free-range turkey slices to wrap up goat cheese or raw cheddar, avocado and a sliver of carrot.
- 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.
- Smoothies – Mix frozen berries or other fruit with full-fat yogurt and a drizzle of raw honey. Blend and send in a thermos.
- Fruit and yogurt parfait – Full-fat Greek yogurt with sliced fruit, slivered almonds, and a drizzle of raw honey.
- Homemade banana or zucchini bread (you can substitute persimmons or whatever’s in season) made 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.
- 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?