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.
Top 8 School Lunch Tips from Weelicious
- 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.
- 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)
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
For more great ideas, check out Weelicious’s Weekly Meal Plans that offer up 5 dinner menus that kids will love to eat, cooking and recipe videos, tips and more!