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5 Easy School Lunch Hacks That Pack More Variety, Nutrition

Child and Family

Whether you are a few days or a few weeks into the beginning of a new school year, some of you may already be singing the lunch box blues. It’s not always easy finding and filling that box with enough variety and nutrition to keep you and your child satisfied.

Think outside the box 

Since morning is a hectic time, lunches not only need to be nutritious, but simple and quick. My advice for greater variety is to think outside the box. Lunch doesn’t have to be a sandwich. 

Kids love bento box-style lunches, wraps and roll-ups. Smoothies can be sent in a thermos and are a quick way to include protein, fruit and veggies. There are also a lot of great new products that can help add nutrient density to a packed lunch.

In my pursuit of new and creative lunch ideas, I’ve uncovered a few tricks. Here are my favorites...

5 lunch box quick tips

  1. Bento box – This lunch is kind of like an assortment of snacks that includes a protein, fruit, grain and vegetable. Examples include cheese cubes, slices of ham or other meats, whole grain crackers, grapes and snow peas with ranch. You can also try hummus, pita bread, grape tomatoes, yogurt and strawberries.
  2. Wrap it – Traditional wraps with turkey, roast beef or chicken are great, but try sending something with a creative twist like a pizza wrap. Take a flour tortilla and spread about two tablespoons of marinara sauce on it, then sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese and microwave for about 20 seconds. Cool and slice into 2-inch sections and pack in a container for lunch.
  3. New products – It used to be harder to find healthy side options other than fruit and vegetables, but there are great new products like sweet potato chips, whole-grain crackers made with protein rich quinoa, crunchy snacks with chia seeds in them, and fruit snacks made with vegetables. Check out the grocery store and give some of these new items a try. They can be a good way to add some variety alongside that turkey sandwich.
  4. Smoothie – Spice up a typical brown bag lunch by adding a smoothie! They can be made the night before and kept in the fridge to pour into a thermos the next morning. Pro tip: Sneak some vegetables into your child’s diet by adding greens to a smoothie. Shhh!
  5. Think eggs – Whether in a salad, boiled or deviled, eggs are amazingly nutritious. Check out the recipe below for a batch of omelet muffins to send for lunch instead of a sandwich.

Give each of these ideas a try once a week and you'll have five weeks of added variety for your kiddos! The more variety the more nutrients they are getting. It’s all about mixing it up!

Omelet Muffins

Ingredients

  • 4 Eggs
  • ½ C Chopped broccoli
  • ½ C Shredded cheddar cheese or bacon/sausage
  • 1 tsp Butter
  • Salt/pepper or other seasonings

Directions

Sauté broccoli in a pan with butter or steam in the microwave. Beat eggs in a bowl. Combine cooked broccoli, seasoning and cheese (or bacon/sausage) with the eggs and stir. Pour batter into a greased muffin pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until done. The “muffins” may be kept in the refrigerator for up to four days. Serve cold or reheat. 
 

Emily Bendlin

About the Author:

Pediatrician Dr. Emily Bendlin has always had a passion for working with kids and parents.

Not one to steer clear of difficult cases, she wakes up every morning ready to take on new challenges that await her at Methodist Physicians Clinic Gretna.

See More Articles by Emily Bendlin