3 Nutritious Lunch Ideas You and Your Kids Will Love
Ready or not, the school year is off and running. If you feel like all you do is pack lunches or think about what to put in them, you’re not alone. The job of making sure there is enough food in the house that is both healthy and something you know your kids will love every day is no easy task.
Studies continue to link healthy food to students’ ability to focus and learn. Additionally, a designated time to snack in school isn’t guaranteed, and by lunchtime, our kids are good and hungry. For those accustomed to eating small meals throughout the day, a nutritious lunch is essential for the energy needed to get through the rest of the afternoon.
We set out to make lunch prep simple for the fall, and it’s all about the dips. Prep one of these dips for the school week, along with the healthy pieces for scooping and dipping, and you’ll have a template for nutritious lunches your whole family can enjoy.
Keep reading for four easy recipes to make nutritious lunch ideas a snap.
While you maybe didn’t grow up eating hummus, 25 percent of American homes now stock it in their fridge. Chickpeas are an excellent source of nutrients with minerals and vitamins like B, C and K, to name a few. The protein and fiber in hummus are satiating, keeping you fuller longer, and everyone from kids to adults love it on vegetables or crackers.
Here are few recipes we’ve added to our fall list:
- Classic Tahini Hummus with lemon and a few dashes of hot sauce, according to your child’s taste. In less than 10 minutes, you’ll have almost three cups of hummus for the week.
- Red Pepper Hummus with cilantro and cumin. Use a high powered blender for a creamy texture and a food processor for a chunkier version.
- Hummus Heaped with Tomatoes and Cucumbers could be your next dinner or party appetizer, but we also think it makes a great lunch.
Tip: What you put in your child’s lunchbox is a great opportunity to offer them something they love and at the same time introduce foods they are less familiar with eating. You’ve heard of eating the rainbow but what about creating a lunch theme in a single hue? Does your child like green sugar snap peas? Try adding a collection of green veggies they are less familiar with like blanched green beans and zucchini sticks.
Salsa isn’t just for chips, but no one is going to argue with the ingredients in Siete’s grain-free tortilla chips.
Chopped tomatoes, cilantro, a little onion or cucumber for crunch, salt and pepper and a squeeze of lime makes a fresh pico de gallo kids can scoop with yucca chips, rice crackers or chips you feel good about serving. For an extra punch of protein, try adding rinsed black beans into the pico de gallo mix or slices of cold cooked chicken on the side. And if tomatoes aren’t preferable or in season, what about a fresh fruit salsa instead, using avocados, mangos and papayas? You can also sub in fruits and veggies your child wants to try.
Perhaps as American as apple pie for kids, ranch dip has been a childhood favorite since gaining popularity as a flavor in the 1980s. Whether or not you have a bottle of this white sauce in your fridge, your child will likely be served it at some point. The good news is, ranch dip can be homemade and still maintain its one-of-a-kind flavor.
The recipe below uses real food ingredients with no preservatives, colors, artificial flavors or pesky allergens. It keeps well in the fridge for up to five days! For a vegan version, substitute the mayonnaise for cashew cream or an egg-free mayonnaise (see note below).
Real Ranch Dip
Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Gluten-Free and Sugar-Free
- 1 cup mayonnaise (like Primal Kitchen Mayo made with avocado oil or homemade)
- 5 tablespoons of coconut milk
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. onion powder
- 1 Tbsp. of chopped chives
- 1/2 Tbsp. of chopped parsley
- 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
- pinch of salt & pepper
- Whisk together all ingredients, adding more coconut milk to thin the consistency as desired for dip or dressing.
- Store covered in the refrigerator for up to five days.
- For a vegan cashew cream version: Soak 1 cup of cashews overnight. Blend drained cashews with five tablespoons of water. Add garlic and onion powder to a blender on high speed—puree until smooth. Add more water if needed. Stir in chives, parsley, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
For more kid lunch and snack ideas, check out what our community said in 6 Snacks Parents Love to Feed Their Kids.