The school season is back in full swing, and parents all over the country are looking for ways to prepare quick and healthy lunches and snacks for their kids. This can be trickier than it seems, because many times the very foods that offer the most convenience are sorely lacking in nutritional value. If you're looking for some quick lunch meals you can prepare that will give your kids a good helping of quality nutrition, below are 10 healthy school lunch ideas that will help you start the year off right.
*Note: These lunches are best implemented when packing them in a sectional lunchbox, such as a bento box.
- Egg Salad Sandwich - Spread egg salad between slices of whole wheat bread, and add spinach or lettuce leaves to go with it. For a side dish, toss some blueberries and sliced bananas in non-fat vanilla yogurt. In another section of the lunchbox, include some raw broccoli florets and baby carrots along with a light ranch dip.
- Turkey and Cheese Spinach Wrap - Roll up some sliced turkey (oven roasted or hardwood smoked are good choices) along with lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced cheese (provolone or Colby jack), sliced bell peppers and light mayo (or light ranch dressing) in a spinach wrap. Cut it into sections to mimic a sushi look, and serve with crunchy baby carrots and all-natural baked potato chips or whole-grain Sun Chips.
- Barbecue Chicken Sandwich - Toss shreds of cooked chicken breast (fresh or maybe left over from last night's dinner) in barbecue sauce, and serve between a whole wheat bun for a delicious, savory lunchtime meal. Include a side dish of a vegetable medley such as raw carrots, broccoli and cauliflower with a light ranch dip.
- Guacamole Chicken Wrap - Spread guacamole dip onto a whole wheat tortilla wrap and then line with lettuce leaves. Add pieces of shredded skinless grilled chicken breast (lemon herb is a good complement) along with sliced tomatoes and a dash of salt and pepper, then lightly sprinkle with lime juice. Add cottage cheese as a side item.
- Southwest Bean Dip and Chips - For a lunch packed with protein and fiber, stir some mild salsa into a mixture of canned refried beans. Use this as a dip, and include a bag of their favorite whole-grain tortilla chips.
- Cream Cheese and Honey Sandwich - This delicious sandwich is quick to prepare, yet goes a long way in the flavor department. Spread plain cream cheese on two slices of whole grain bread, then drizzle an ample amount of honey on each slice. A side dish of nuts or sunflower seeds will add a nice salty contrast to the sandwich.
- Pasta Salad - Combine cooked spiral or bowtie pasta with sliced cucumbers, broccoli florets, diced tomatoes and sliced red peppers, and toss in a vinegar/olive oil dressing for an excellent light lunchtime pasta dish. Include a small side treat such as a couple of fig bars.
- Tuna Sandwich - Tuna is a great low-fat protein source, which helps fortify your child's growing muscles. Combine tuna with light mayo and lettuce on whole grain bread. Add a side of baby carrots with light ranch dip and a handful of whole-grain Goldfish crackers. If you want to add an extra splash of fun, cut the sandwich into the shape of a fish.
- Turkey and Cheese Pretzel Kebabs - Roll up slices of oven roasted turkey with provolone cheese, and "skewer" them on thin pretzel sticks. Add a side of mandarin orange slices for some healthy sweetness.
- Finger Food Bonanza - This lunch will be a miniature buffet for your child. Cut a turkey and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread into small squares or wedges, and add a cup of broccoli and cauliflower florets with a light strawberry or raspberry dressing. Include blueberries in another section, and then put about 1/2 cup of trail mix in whatever section of the lunchbox you have left.
The new school year provides a perfect opportunity to begin packing healthier, more nutritious meals in your child's lunchbox. Use the lunch ideas listed above to give your kids a healthy and delicious meal that they'll never want to trade!
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