For stay-at-home moms, lunch can be overwhelming. Having just cleaned up breakfast, and just a few hours away from making dinner, the last thing you want to do is figure out another healthy meal your kids will want to eat.
On the other hand, kids are doing more growing and developing than any of us and their childhood nutrition will set them up for life. Moms are often pregnant or nursing or preparing or recovering from it, and they need as much nutrition as possible, too! Although my favorite lunch is leftovers from dinner, sometimes there are none. Here are 10 ideas of highly-nutritious lunches to give you new ideas, so you are never tempted to buy boxed mac & cheese again!
1. Veggie sandwich or wrap
Here are some ideas. Let your kids choose what they want to put on. Keep it simple and just use 2 or 3 things, or use as many as you feel up to prepping.
- Bread, wrap, or buns of choice
- bell peppers
- curried chickpea salad
2. Grilled Banana PB “Quesadilla”
Spread PB onto half a tortilla, and top with banana slices (thin apple slices are also good!), honey, and/or cinnamon. Fold over and cook in a skillet until warm and melty. Use a pizza cutter or large knife to cut into wedges.
3. Avocado Pea Wrap
Sounds weird, but it’s so good! Spread mashed avocado down the middle of a whole grain tortilla or pita bread, then sprinkle with thawed frozen peas. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roll or wrap it up. Cutting it into little spirals is also fun.
Boil whole wheat or brown rice pasta and top with your favorite jarred marinara sauce. If you’re feeling culinary, this cashew pesto is also very good on pasta.
5. Surprise plates
In a muffin tin or a regular plate, put a few of several random things from your cupboards and fridge. The deal is your kids won’t know what they’re going to get, but there will always be a special treat included if they promise to eat everything. Some ideas are raisins, crackers, apple slices, kidney beans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, cucumber slices, edamame, berries, cold pasta, cereal, granola, carrots, hummus, pita bread. Always include a special treat to keep it a surprise!
Putting dip in one section and lots of “dipabbles” in the rest is also fun.
6. Burritos or Tostadas
Open a can of fat-free refried beans and heat it up. Spread on a tortilla or tostada shell. Top with salsa, lettuce, or guacamole for a tostada, or roll up into a burrito.
7. Oven-baked French Fries
Although these need to bake for about 30 minutes, they take very little prep time, so just start them in advance so they’ll be ready when you’re hungry. Slice potatoes into wedges or shoestring fries, toss with salt and pepper (rosemary or cajun seasoning is also delicious). Bake on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet at 425 for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and soft. Serve with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce or ketchup.
8. Flatbread pizzas
Top a tortilla, pita bread, whole wheat english muffin or naan with pasta sauce or pesto. Put chopped onions, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, spinach or whatever veggies you like on top. Sprinkle with cheese or vegan cheese, if desired, and broil in oven for 3-4 minutes, or until crispy and cheese is golden brown.
9. Baked Potatoes
Microwave a few potatoes, and serve with black beans and salsa on top, chili beans, or with just salt and pepper. You can make a cute mouse with peas and carrots, too, which was a hit in a kids cooking class I taught once.
10. Banana Shakes
Ok, this might be more of an after-lunch treat for most, but I literally eat this for lunch some days. Especially in the summer, I love to blend frozen ripe bananas with some peanut butter (essentially a PB banana sandwich without the bread). I could eat it every day, honestly. You can also add a little cocoa powder and almond milk for a chocolate milk shake.
For many more lunch ideas, check out my Pinterest Board of Creative Lunches for Kids.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments, what’s your go-to lunch with kids?