The key to preparing a healthy packed lunch is to get creative with the main lunch item, it can make or break a lunch!
This is often the easiest food to add to a lunch, especially if you plan ahead. Leftovers from the night before are very valuable because they are prepared fresh buy yourself and don't contain nasty preservatives that are designed to extend the shelf life of the food, plus it's a very practical way to minimize waste and expense and you know exactly what's in it.
Sandwiches and wraps:No doubt the sandwich is very convenient but choose your bread wisely. Homemade whole grain bread is best, (preferably sprouted or slow rising sourdough, or spelt) while avoiding the heavily processed white pan. Sandwich filling options are endless but here are a few healthy ideas:
- Turkey meat slices with pesto and tomato
- Good quality cold meats with mustard and lettuce
- Homemade liver pâté with pickles
- Apple slices, bacon, Dijon mustard, and cheddar cheese
- Grilled cheese embellished with bacon bits, shredded meat or chopped veggies
- Chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayo
- Nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew) with sliced banana
- Meat or turkey leftovers with mayo and lettuce or bean sprouts
- Cream cheese with salmon/tuna and red onion
- Chicken salad made with crispy pecans, grapes, celery and mayo
- Mashed avocado mixed with a drop of lemon juice in a pita stuffed with spinach, grated carrots, tomatoes slices, cucumber slices and grated cheese
The great thing about wraps is that the "wrap" can be so many different things. While the most obvious is a tortilla (preferably whole wheat and sprouted), other choices include toasted nori seaweed sheets, crepes or a large leaf of lettuce. Here are some easy creative inspirations:
- Raw cream cheese sprinkled with grated carrots, grated zucchini, grated apple and topped with a lettuce leaf
- Cream cheese, wild salmon, rocket or other lettuce and sliced green onion
- Mix cream cheese, chopped apple, nuts, vanilla, cinnamon and raw honey
- Refried beans (seasoned with cumin, garlic and sea salt), lettuce, cheese and salsa
- Hummus with shredded carrots, cucumber strips and sliced avocado
- Use a slice of deli meat to roll up a stick of cheese and add in some pickles or sauerkraut (preferably fermented and homemade), onions, a little squirt of mustard and mayo.
Soups offer the ultimate nutritional bang for your lunchbox buck. They fill the belly and warm the soul, especially on those cold winter days. These lunch items are particularly nourishing when made with a homemade bone broth base, which is bursting with vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, collagen and much more. Freeze leftover soup in meal-sized portions (glass Pyrex or small plastic yogurt-size containers work well). Thaw the needed portion overnight and warm it up on the stovetop (ideally stay clear of the microwave) for the (stainless steel) flask.
"Snacky" Lunchbox Ideas
- Crispy nuts and seeds can be the ultimate snack item packed with good fats and protein in an easy-to-digest package.
- Trail mix made with crispy nuts, coconut flakes, dried fruit and just a splash of dark chocolate chips to make it extra special.
- Fruit salad made with chopped fruit with a dab of sour cream or crème fraiche with a touch of raw honey and a sprinkle of dried coconut.
- Apple fruit salad made with mayo, crispy walnuts, a little coconut and a dab of raw honey.
- Dates stuffed with crispy almond, pecan, or walnut.
- Olives, green or black, from a jar, drained.
- Date logs/balls (available for purchase or make your own by grinding dates or raisins, add coconut or finely chopped nuts and roll into balls).
- Hard boiled eggs with a dash of sea salt or herbed salt.
- Cheese cut into fun shapes with small biscuit cutters.
- Popcorn topped with melted whole butter, sea salt and a dash of parmesan cheese.
- Avocado "pudding" made with mashed avocado, whole milk or cream with a dash of a favorite sweetener.
- Raw veggies (carrots, celery, turnip sticks, pepper slices, daikon radish, etc.) or crackers make great dippers for hummus, guacamole or peanut butter.
- A good quality, whole milk natural yogurt.
A well nourished school kid will be happier, healthier and more academic so its important to put a bit of time into their lunch box.