School (and Work) Lunch Ideas

My kids start school next week so I thought it would be fun to involve them in this week’s blog.  I asked them to share with me some of their favorite school lunches (besides the chicken fingers in the cafeteria at school).  Yes, my kids eat chicken fingers and fries.  I may be a nutrition coach, but I’m also a mom who does her best to set an example for her children, while at the same time allowing them some freedoms to choose, explore, and discover what’s out there.  We do our best to encourage variety and balance but never impose hard restrictions. I’m under the belief that would only do more harm then good.  However, the older they get, the more the decision is up to them.  Okay, so, back to school lunches.

My 8-year old daughter created this list on her own.  I asked her to give me the things she liked most her lunches (main meals and snacks):

  • Mom’s homemade chili

  • LaraBar Kids Brownies

  • ½ avocado with a side of cheese (she eats it together)

  • An apple (sliced then reassembled like a puzzle and put together with a rubber band)

  • Rice and Teriyaki Chicken with Katsu Sauce

  • DIY Trailmix (cashews, raisins, peanuts – and m &m’s when we have them, which we rarely do)

  • Leftover Spaghetti from the night before

  • Turkey Sandwich with Lettuce, Tomato, cheese and Primal Kitchen Avocado Mayo

 My 6-year old came up the following.  She wants you to know that the top two are her only favorites and that everything else is just something she likes:

  • Rice and Taco Meat mixed together in her thermos

  • Chicken Noodle soup in her thermos

  • Seaweed

  • “Turkey Rollers” – Turkey, cheese, lettuce, and Primal Kitchen Avocado Mayo wrapped in a tortilla or flatbread

  • Rice and Teriyaki chicken

  • Yogurt

  • Apples just like her sister

  • DIY Trailmix (Cashews, raisins, almonds, and dark chocolate chunks)

 As for mom?  Well you know what I like!  But in case you don’t, I love salads for lunch!!  Especially when the weather is warm.  Sure you can make a mason jar salad for work, but you don’t need any fancy equipment.  A glass container or Ziploc plastic container will do!  Simply place some of your favorite salad ingredients into a container and bring it with you to work.  Place the dressing in a small container and take it with you on the side.  I like to save small glass jars that I find at the grocery store.  Sometimes I’ll be a small jar of artichoke hearts or roasted peppers and I just keep the jar for dressings or other small things.  It’s a great way to re-purpose and recycle!  There are no rules to a good salad, just use what you like!  Here are some of my favorite ingredients.  What are yours?

  • Green Leaf Lettuce, Spinach, Spring Mix, Radicchio

  • Bell Peppers of any color

  • Cucumbers

  • Sauerkraut

  • Carrots

  • Celery

  • Avocado

  • Red onion, green onion

  • Olives

  • Tomatoes, grape tomatoes

  • Artichokes

  • Black beans

  • Roast chicken, Baked Salmon, sautéed shrimp, lunch meat, grilled chicken, chicken sausage, turkey bacon

If you are bringing this to work, place the more wet veggies at the bottom of your container and work your way up with the dryer ingredients until you get to the lettuce.  But not all salads have lettuce 😉.  You can also place a paper towel in your container to soak up any condensation, keeping your salad fresh and crisp.  Don’t like salad, that’s okay!  Here are some other ideas:

  • Chicken with Rice and Veggies

  • Chili

  • Salmon with stir fry

  • Minestrone Soup

  • Chicken Noodle Soup

  • Mini Burger Sliders with roasted potatoes

  • Turkey Wrap

  • Vegetarian Burrito

All of these ideas can be made ahead of time and placed in the fridge for the week so that grabbing lunch on your way out the door is simple and easy!  The trick is taking some time in you weekend to get it done, But if you do, it will save you time, money, and worry while simultaneously adding benefits to your health! Whatever you decide to eat, I hope you have a wonderful school year!