Easy, HEALTHY School Lunches Your Kids Will Make and Love!

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Back to school comes with a lot of excitement, decisions, and purchases. Before long, reminders of “depositing money in your child’s lunch account” will arrive in your email. But school lunches don’t work well for our family. Last year I wrote about it here.
My kids don’t like a majority of what is offered, and they don’t get full on what they do eat, which leads to them getting two entrees or worse, coming home starving at 4:00, eating a HUGE snack, and ruining their dinners. Additionally, and more importantly, the nutrition value just isn’t there. This post isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to lunches. My kids will eat raw vegetables for dayyyz but throw them in a soup or casserole and they get suspicious fast.

So these are my tips for making school lunches and sticking with it:

  1. Do what works for YOU. We had one of the bento box style lunch boxes but the containers were sometimes limiting and didn’t always get washed as soon as they needed to. We use a lot of plastic bags, but it helps us stick to our routine.
  2. Know your kids! As I mentioned with the veggies, I know what my kids will and won’t eat, so use those preferences as starting points and build. Reinforce how their growing bodies need fruits and vegetables and water to be strong/ fast/ smart/ brave so they are motivated to adopt good habits early.
  3. Let kids help shop for, and plan the lunches. My kids know that they can get anything they want in the produce section of the store or at the farmer’s market. Kids like to be told yes, and they like to have some control. They know I’m not going to buy mini bags of chips or cookies so they don’t bother asking.
  4. Think creatively about “lunch”. Homemade trail mix, some whole grain crackers, and some cheese and fruit can easily replace a sandwich and chips as the favorite. Consider lettuce wraps or tortillas in lieu of bread and bagels.
  5. Make your own “lunchables” or other pre-packaged (see:overpriced) favorites. Let kids use cookie cutters to cut lunch meat and cheese into shapes, add a few crackers, and when they’re not looking, throw a surprise piece of candy in for dessert.

Have a great school year!

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Nicole jumps at the chance to travel the globe but finds comfort upon returning home to the comfort and familiarity of her native Rochester. After attending the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities for her undergraduate degree in architecture, she skipped her graduation ceremony to marry a guy she met at a waterski show when she was 19. Nicole returned to the "U" to pursue her master's degree, and this time walked in the ceremony despite giving birth two weeks before graduation. Her baby girl is now 12 years old, with a 10 year old biological brother and 10 year old adopted brother recently home from the Democratic Republic of Congo. In what is clearly a trend to fully integrate all aspects of life, she and her husband involve their kiddos in everything from politics to rehabbing old buildings. She feels strongly that work and travel and family and marriage are best enjoyed simultaneously, and that life is all the richer that way. As a working/ volunteering/ care taking mom passionate about kids, women's health, historic preservation and the arts, Nicole sits on several committees and boards in the Rochester area and loves nothing more than providing baked goods and themed cakes for any of the aforementioned causes. Nicole thrives on copious amounts of coffee, a love/hate relationship with running, and searching real estate listings daily. Check out Nicole on Instagram for shots of her bulldog Lucy or follow her design blog at Old Spaces New Places.