Packing your kid's lunch can be overwhelming. First, you have to find foods that taste good cold. Second, you have to be sure your foods don't contain peanuts and nut product and third, kid's can just be plain old picky.
How easy would it be you could just pack your leftover chicken and veggies from the night before? Unfortunately, that probably won't fly with most kids so I created some tops and suggestions for you to consider as well as some basic nutrition facts to consider to make sure you kid is nourished and energized throughout the day!
Nutrition for Kids
- Healthy carbohydrates and fats provide energy for your child.
- Examples of healthy fats include coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, nuts (if allowed) and seeds and unhealthy fats include shortening, margarine, canola oil.
- Healthy carbs include fruits, vegetables, brown rice and whole grains, brown rice pasta or quinoa pasta but does not include white bread, pasta or white rice, gummy snacks, pastries, cookies, etc. Pack foods low on the glycemic index in order to keep their energy levels stable and focus better at school.
- Protein is needed to build and repair body tissue.
- Calcium is needed to support growth but in sources other than milk such as spinach, dark leafy greens, sesame seeds, etc., to build bones and teeth. Iron which is the oxygen-carrying component of blood, is needed for children’s expanding blood volume during growth, for girls entering puberty.
- Magnesium provides structure for healthy bones and can be found in foods such as whole grains, legumes, bananas
- Copper which joins with iron to form red blood cells is important for nervous system functioning and can be found in seafood and whole grains
- Manganese helps form healthy bones and helps process carbs, cholesterol and protein and can be found in nuts, whole grains, vegetables and oils
- Zinc helps with healing and immune function and is important for strong bones and taste, smell and sight. It can be found in meat, fish, chicken, whole grains, legumes and nuts
- Potassium controls nerve impulses and muscle contractions and can be found in bananas, nuts, meal meat and fish
- B2 - important for growth and tissue repair, skin, eyes and can be found in egg whites, mushrooms, green veggies
- B3 - helps release energy from food, growth, control cholesterol, nervous system, digestive health and can be found in eggs, vegetables, tuna, legumes, lean meat.
- B6 - helps process protein and carbs, make red blood cells, brain function and immune system health and is found in nuts, soybeans, whole grains, leafy greens
- B5 - helps process carbs, fat, protein, and form fatty acids and cholesterol and can be found in nuts, eggs, green leafy vegetables, meat, fish
- B12- works with folate to produce new blood and nerve cells and DNA, help process carbs and fats and found only in animal products
- Vitamin C is needed for healthy skin, gums, teeth, bones, cartilage, and helps absorb iron and assist in wound healing. It can be found in many fruits and vegetables
- Vitamin A is key for eyesight, normal growth, skin in the mouth/respiratory tract/urinary tract, and builds immunity. It can be found in oily fish, egg yolk, orange/yellow/green fruit and veggies
- Vitamin D works with calcium and phosphorus to make strong bones and teeth and can be found in eggs, cold liver oil, oily fish
- Fibre is extremely important to help with proper digestive function. Many children suffer from constipation and are lacking in fibre to diet high in refined/processed foods
Foods to Avoid
- Packaged/processed foods
- Obviously peanut products and in some schools, nut products all together
- Avoid artificial colours, chemical preservatives, artificial sweeteners, added sugar, and added salt.
- Many food colourings such as Tartrazine E102, Sunset Yellow E110, Carmoisine E122, Sodium Benzoate E211 have been linked to hyperactivity in children.
- Other additives have been linked to the following in children:
- Irritability, temper outbursts, restlessness and difficulty falling sleep, speech delay, anxiety, depression and difficulty concentrating
01 | If you are someone who hates packing lunches, then consider doing some meal prep ahead of time so you can just grab and go throughout the week
02 | Use glass containers or stainless steel to avoid the leaching of xenoestrogens and other toxic chemicals into your child’s food
03 | Invest in reusable baggies. Use these to reduce waste and save money over time. Have enough to prep snacks for the week and get larger ones for sandwiches and bigger food items.
04 | Organize your fridge. Clean it out and get rid of what you don’t need. Get plastic baskets and label them i.e. “a.m. school snacks”, “p.m. school snacks”, “lunch”
05 | Organize your cupboards. Again you can create baskets and do the same type of labeling. Put bulk food into visible and easy to access jars. Get rid of unhealthy and expired foods
06 | Batch cook. Make large batches of crockpot meals and freeze, granola bars, energy balls, muffins, bread, healthy desserts, etc.
01 | Cold pasta dish using chickpea pasta, brown rice pasta
02 | Sandwiches with sprouted bread, hummus, roasted veggies
03 | Apple slices or banana slices with sunflower seed butter
04 | Hummus and veggies
05 | Overnight oats to-go
06 | Soups in a thermos
07 | Energy balls and Oat Bites
06 | Goat cheese and Mary's crackers
07 | Chia pudding
08 | Veggie burgers or falafel
09 | Roasted chickpeas
10 | Tuna macaroni salad with brown rice pasta
11 | Coconut flour carrot muffins with chocolate chips
12 | Veggie chips and guacamole
13 | Quinoa pizza bites
14 | Coconut yogurt and homemade granola
15 | Collagen "Jello"
Just like the oat bites they are a mix of healthy carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein, help us stabilize our blood sugar in between meals and stay focused and energized throughout the day. They are really quite simple to make and require NO baking! Plus you can sub the nut butters and nuts for seed based butters and seeds making them school safe for your kid's lunches.
1 cup of pitted medjool dates
½ cup nut butter
½-1tsp cinnamon or vanilla - optional
½ - 1 cup nuts, seeds or coconut flakes
Remember from my Oat Bites post? You don't have to worry about getting the measurements exact. If you want to add more nuts, seeds, or whatever then go for it! The only thing you have to be mindful of is having enough dates or nut/seed butter to hold everything in place.
Nut/Seed Butters: Almond, peanut (limit and make sure its natural), cashew, brazil nut, sunflower seed, pumpkin seed.
Nuts/seeds: sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax meal, almonds, pistachios, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
Other: coconut flakes, nuts, seeds, cacao, chocolate chips, dates, protein powder (1 scoop per batch)
Option 1: Chocolate Hazelnut
- 1 cup dates
- ¼ cup cacao nibs
- ¾ cup hazelnuts
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- ¼ cup almond butter
Option 2: Cashew Coconut
- 1 cup dates
- ½ cup cashew
- ¼ cup coconut flakes
- ¼ nut/seed butter of choice
- ¼ ground flax
Option 3: Cranberry Pecan
- 1 cup dates
- ½ cup pecans
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ½ tsp vanilla
- ¼ nut butter of choice
- 1 tsp pure maple syrup