lunch box ideas

Back To School – Time to Start Packin’!

by: CrossFit Central Women

It’s that time again. Time for newly sharpened pencils, locker assignments, reading lists, parent-teacher meetings and lunch box packin! We know it can be a challenge to come up with healthy options for your kid’s lunches - and more importantly, options that they will actually eat! We have a few tips and a large list of ideas to make this year’s back to school lunch box mania a good time for everyone.

Note: even if you aren’t a parent, read on! You’re sure to get some good ideas for your own (adult) lunch box.

  • Plan Ahead: Plan out lunch box ideas in advance, this will make things less stressful in the morning before school and also give you piece of mind (one less thing)
  • Pack mostly veggies and protein with some fruit
  • Keep it fun! Use shapes or creative names (see below)
  • Ice Pack is Key: Keep your kid’s snacks cool and fresh until lunchtime
  • Wraps are Your Friend! Keep things bite size and include finger foods
  • Teach your kid how to “build” their lunch and pack options. Example - pack Greek yogurt and if they think its fun to “build” their own lunch let them add the toppings at lunchtime. Or pack the necessary ingredients for a wrap (lettuce, turkey, avocado, tomato slice) and let them build their own wrap

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(above pic courtesy of Sarah Wilson)

  • IDEAS! Proteins:

Turkey Meat
Tuna Salad
Hard Boiled Eggs
Chicken Salad
Salami
Chopped Chicken
Chopped Sausage
Canadian Bacon
Beef Jerky

  • IDEAS! Snacks – Veggies, Fruits, Healthy Fats, Dips and Other:

Carrots
Cauliflower 
Broccoli 
Guacamole (great for dipping veggies in!) 
Kale Chips
Sweet Potato Chips
Beet Chips
Pickles
Deviled Eggs
Jicama with Lime
Apple Slices with Lemon Juice (add a side of nut butter for dipping)
Apple & Nut Butter Sandwich on GF Bread
Pear & Avocado slices
Grapes
Cherries
Homemade Fruit Rolls Ups (recipe)  
Cherry Tomatoes
Raisins
Plantain Chips
Greek Yogurt (possible toppings: granola, honey, seeds, nuts)
Rice Cracker with Nut Butter
Lara Bars
Coconut Flakes with Cinnamon 
Trail Mix
Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates topped with crushed walnuts
Chia Seed Pudding (recipe ideas below)
Nuts with Coconut Flakes and a Few Dark Chocolate Chips
Ants on a Log (celery or carrot with almond butter and raisins)
2 Cucumber Slices with Goat Milk Cream Cheese in Between

  • Ideas! Wraps:

Turkey with avocado
Lettuce, turkey, bell pepper slices or cucumber slices
Chicken with bacon and avocado
Lettuce with bacon and apple slices

  • Very Cool & Very Functional Lunch Pales

Most any lunch sack or container will work for packing your cave kid’s food. But there are a couple versions that are getting rave reviews: Lunch Bots & Planet Box

  • Keeping Healthy Eating Creative and Fun!

Sometimes just a note from Mom or a special treat (dark chocolate squares) are all the fun your kids need. But if you have a picky eater or are just looking to keep your child engaged at the lunch table try naming some of their snacks.

Example: Ants on a Log = nut butter on celery topped with raisins
OR Gorilla Sandwich = almond butter and banana rolled in a romaine leaf.

These both make eating the celery stick and the piece of lettuce way more fun. One idea we came across while searching for healthy snacks we thought to be exceptionally brilliant –> Muscle Sticks. Pieces of meat and a few veggies piled on to a fun stick (also known as shish kabobs). Call this handy lunchbox winner “Muscle Sticks” and emphasize that they will make your cave kid big and strong! (try using salami & turkey with avocado slices and grapes)

  • Chia Seed Pudding Recipes via Caveman Gourmet 

Chia Seed Chocolate Pudding:
 

¼ cup chia seeds

¾ cup almond milk 
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of honey
Add fruit toppings like berries or pineapples (optional) 

Chia Seed Vanilla Pudding
: 

½  cup chia seeds

2 cups almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cinnamon 
Add fruit toppings like berries or pineapples (optional)  

There is a wealth of information out there and even Facebook pages dedicated to recipe ideas and lunchbox pics, below are a few resources we love!

Nom Nom Paleo

Everyday Paleo

Paleo Parents – great source of information and recipes 

Cavekid Paleo Lunches & Snacks – a Facebook page dedicated to ideas, ideas and more ideas!



Twitter: @CFCentralWmn
Facebook: Facebook.com/CrossFitCentralWomen

How To Pack A Kid-Friendly Lunch Box

Written by Amanda Natividad, NatureBox Editor
Photos by Angie Ramirez, for NatureBox

Packing lunch is hard enough to do for yourself, let alone for your little one. Here are some ideas on how you can pack the perfect kid-friendly lunch box!

Be mindful of crunchiness: No one likes a soggy lunch. Be sure to separate crunchy items - like crackers and Cocoa Waffle Wafers - from liquids and spreads like ranch dressing, hummus and nut butter. 

Make it a balanced meal: Ideally, the lunch will have a good balance of wholesome foods your kid loves like nuts, whole grains and raw vegetables and fruit. It’s even better if you make the sure the veggies and fruit are bite-sized so they’re easy to eat!

Remember that presentation matters: Whether at home or on-the-go, everyone appreciates a nicely plated dish. You can also try using sectioned, sturdy plastic containers and packing them in insulated lunch bags to easily keep foods separated and fresh. 

Need some lunch box ideas? Try these easy-to-pack recipes:

Still hungry? Check out our other helpful How-To’s!

Get more healthy ideas and delicious snacks by joining NatureBox. Enter coupon code NATURE for 25% off your first month subscription!

Amanda really wants to help you cook delicious foods and sustain a healthier lifestyle. When she’s not goofing around on Twitter she’s probably noshing on the pile of NatureBox snacks at her desk.

Angie shares yummy food, easy DIY crafts, adventures of motherhood, and everything in between on her blog Little Inspiration. Check out more of her healthy and fun recipes here.

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Strawberry Mango Fruit Leather - There’s no need to buy store-bought fruit leather with this easy homemade version…it’s perfect for lunch boxes and after school snacks…RECIPE

Ingredients

1 cup hulled and quartered strawberries
1 cup diced ripe mango (about 1 large)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Lunches of February: part 1

Biggest section:
Toasted white bread with avocado, cucumber, hummus, tomato, paprika, salt, and pepper
Sides: pomegranate seeds, carrots, and half a granola bar.

Top:
Peanut butter on toasted whole wheat thins
Sides: hummus and celery

Middle:
Everything bagel thin with avocado, tomato, salt, and pepper.
Sides: taboli and half a frozen peach

Bottom:
Toasted whole wheat thin with peanut butter and banana
Sides: red peppers and strawberries

Think Outside the Lunchbox: Quesadillas

This is so simple to make and a great change from the typical ham and cheese sandwich.  My husband thought I was crazy to be going to the effort to make this for my daughter’s lunch this morning.  But really, it does not take much longer than making a sandwich.  The only added time is for cooling.  

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 corn tortillas (I used Trader Joe’s.  They have no unpronounceable ingredients.)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Slice of ham (could use turkey, chopped black beans or just use cheese)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Sprinkle one corn tortilla with shredded cheese, layer a slice of ham on the cheese, sprinkle more shredded cheese on the ham.  Top with a second corn tortilla.  
  2. Place the quesadilla in a pre-heated frying pan.  Flip the quesadilla over when the cheese on the bottom starts to melt.  Heat the second side until all cheese is melted.
  3. Take the quesadilla out of the pan, cool it on a rack and, when cooled, slice into wedges (I use a pizza cutter - it cuts cleanly and quickly.)  
  4. Pack in the lunchbox with a container of salsa. 

Variations:  

My husband makes this at home with sliced turkey and cheese.  

You could use sliced cheese instead of shredded but I think you would end up using a lot more cheese and that may not be to your taste.  I don’t like to have too much cheese on my sandwiches - not very figure friendly.

I hope this gives you a new option for school lunches, or yours for that matter.  

Bon Appetit!