Top 8 School Lunch Tips from Weelicious

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I just got a new cookbook in the mail that I know you guys will LOVE. It’s by my friend Catherine at Weelicious and it’s all about packing school lunches! Complete with beautiful visuals (showcasing fruits, veggies, pantry staples and more), lunch theme ideas, picky eater strategies, a food allergy guide, and 160 beautifully photographed recipes – it’s safe to say she’s thought of everything. This new Weelicious Lunches book officially goes on sale next week (already available for preorder on Amazon) so in the meantime I’ve asked Catherine to share her top 8 school lunch tips with us below. Also, in case you missed it over the summer be sure to check out her “Toddler Bites” guest post on our site as well.

Weelicious lunch book

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Top 8 School Lunch Tips from Weelicious

  1. It’s all about balance!
    When you’re packing lunch, always make sure to pack a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins in every meal.
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  2. Fill it Up.
    Always keep your favorite shelf and refrigerator staples on hand. I keep a list on the fridge to remind me of everyone’s favorites:
    – Nut butters (almond, peanut and sunflower butter are great choices)
    – Cream cheese
    – Cheddar, mozzarella or your favorite cheese (sticks, bricks, shredded or slices)
    – Pesto (goes great with pasta, rice, quinoa, as a sandwich spread or to make an Egg Pesto Melt)
    – Whole-grain pasta (a variety of shapes like ziti, macaroni, rotini or more)
    – Bananas (to eat on their own, sliced and added with honey and nut butter on a sandwich or added to Banana Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies)
    – Baby carrots, sugar snap peas, cucumbers or any of your child’s favorite veggies
    – Dehydrated, frozen, or dried fruit
    – Plain yogurt (to mix with honey, maple syrup, mashed bananas or granola)
    – Whole-grain bread (bagels, english muffins, tortillas or your favorite sandwich bread)
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  3. Re-Use!
    Bento Box style containers are a great way for kids to see all of their choices of food without having to open a ton of plastic containers and bags. PlanetBox and LapTop Lunches reusable containers are great choices because they can be stacked in a lunch bag or in this box and placed into a cute carry bag. We’ve had ours for years and they’re still good as new.
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  4. Double and Freeze.
    When I make a recipe, I try to double it and freeze it, so that I always have it on hand for lunches. I cook all of our favorite foods and treats like cookies, bars, pancakes, waffles and more in freezer safe containers so all I need to do is defrost one or two homemade foods.
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  5. Eye Appeal.
    Cutting foods into fun shapes and sizes can make all the difference in whether your child will eat them. Try using a melon baller for watermelon or cutting cucumbers into sticks or coins.
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  6. Leftovers!
    There’s no reason you can’t turn last night’s dinner into today’s lunch. Turn chicken fajitas into a quesadilla, chicken in a crock pot into slices of chicken with a dipping sauce, or last night’s brown rice into a beans and rice burrito.
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  7. Variety is the spice of life.
    Switching things up day to day in a lunch box can keep kids nutritionally balanced while excited at the same time.
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  8. Treat for your sweet.
    Putting in a little something sweet can put a big smile on your little one’s face. Whether it is an occasional homemade cookie or even a little note, that last addition can go a long way.

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13 comments to Top 8 School Lunch Tips from Weelicious

  • Ashley

    Wow, that looks wonderful! Thank you SO much for sharing! :)

  • Since we’ve unprocessed our house I am on the hunt for lunch ideas for my kids. My son is going in 5th grade this year and I’m HOPING and PRAYING he will still take his lunch in middle school. Has anyone else had a transition where their kids stopping bringing lunch once they got older? I’m thinking if I pack more ‘grown up’ types of things he’ll still take it.

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Debi. It might help if you involve your son in the menu planning for his lunches so he feels like he’s making his own decisions. You could offer to make healthier versions of what they offer in the school cafeteria and allow for some bending of tight food rules. I find Jamie Oliver’s Ted Talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/jamie_oliver.htmlto be a useful tool when reminding kids about the dangers of the Standard American Diet. Best of luck. ~Amy

    • Anitra

      Debi,

      I only had packed lunch as an option until 8th grade. In highschool, I was so excited to buy from the cafeteria… I tried it for a little over a year (mixed with occasional packed lunches), and then it was just too much work to wait in line and TOO gross (one too many chicken sandwiches that were pink-tinged inside).

      The key is to get your son involved, and loosen up a little on the rules. If he can buy school lunch sometimes and pack his favorite foods other times, he will probably be content.

  • Amana

    Thank you for all of the kid posts! my son is nearly 1 and we did baby-led weaning (we actually did it on accident, or at least, unknowingly) and he is a wonderful eater. i think a lot of these recipes will be great to integrate into his toddler diet. I recently started reading your blog and it has changed our household a lot. we haven’t gone full organic, but we’ve switched to about 90% unprocessed foods when we shop. i’m now searching for alternatives to those processed foods that my family will enjoy and we will eventually start integrating more organic (it’s just so hard when organit is sometimes up to triple the price…). I really appreciate how positive you are and how you offer alternatives (not just scold and explain why something is bad). Anyway, i just wanted to share. thanks again.

  • Msweet

    I have this book pre-ordered on Amazon. I cannot wait for it to be available.

  • kalpana

    My one kid is in 8th grade, once she entered 6th grade she still wanted lunch from home, few reasons why: there is a long line in the cafeteria at school, they dont have enough time to eat if they stand in line and get their food, the school food is very bad in middle school, even worse in High school.
    i do pack grown up type food for her, i little more quantity wise as they do a lot of running around all day at school, something more filling and nutritious for both lunch and breakfast.
    Being vegetarian we anyway have a very limited choice which mainly consist of cheese, cheese and more cheese.

  • kalpana

    I meant to finish before i hit the post comment:

    Being vegetarian we anyway have a very limited choice which mainly consist of cheese, cheese and more cheese at the school cafeteria.

  • Coreen

    I have 5 children, 2 in high school, 1 in middle school, 1 in elementary and a toddler. My children who have lunch at school rarely buy. For mostly the same reasons mentioned by kalpana, long lines, poor quality, small portions and our district has gone a little off the deep end with their menu. My 2 high school aged children only bought lunch a total of 2 times last school year. My middle school child is allowed to buy once per week, but often she opts for less than that. These look like great tips for packing healthy and delicious lunches.

  • Kerry

    I got Weelicious from the library…really should buy it. Will have to check out the lunch version…she has great ideas!

    • Rachel

      Me too! I have tried 4 or 5 recipes in the last few days… I want to buy and definitely check out the lunches book too. My kids are definitely pickier than Chloe and Kenya by far, so I have to see the new one before I’d buy. Thanks for sharing it Lisa!!

  • Michelle

    Debi, I have 5th, 7th and 8th graders. Last year I let them have school lunch once a week. It’s expensive and the menu changes just wasted my money so I’m allowing them school lunch once a month. This year we are trying the 100 days and so far they kids have loved it. For my 8th grader I just give him a bit more of the entree than my girls. My 7th grader is a slow eater so I only give her an entree and 1 side. I believe someone else mentioned communication. Try different things with them and see how they work and make notes. I’m keeping a list on my fridge for things I’m going to try and things we have tried and marked them with either happy faces or sad faces. Leftovers have worked extremely well. A couple of their friends were jealous of their lunches which made me feel really good.

  • Love these tips! I recently did a post with my lunch time “formula” – makes it easier for me to pack lunches without too much thought. I do need to probably make them more fun though.
    http://behealthybehappywellness.com/2013/08/easyhealthy-lunch-formula-for-your-kids/

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