Not only is August Kids Eat Right Month, but it’s also the start of school. I’m always an advocate of well-rounded meals and lunch is no exception. A well-balanced meal consists of a protein source with some form of grains or starches and a ton of colors from your fruits and/or veggies. One huge tip of advice is to make the lunch the night before. That way, in the morning when the house is full of chaos, you all just grab-n-go your healthy lunches. This is a huge time saver. Here are 10 quick back to school lunches to easily make the night before.
- Lasagna Leftovers: Everyone at school or in the office will be jealous of your lasagna leftovers. This recipe for Vegetable Lasagna with Zucchini has protein, carbs, and lots of veggies. It’s a complete meal in one dish. I like making the lasagna on Sunday and I’ll just heat it up during the week for dinner. Put a slice in a Tupperware for lunch the following day. Easy. You’re done.
- Classic PBJ: Don’t just knock this lunch idea. Rock it. Make your PBJ with a little pop by adding shapes to the sandwiches. Including a string cheese and a fruit will complete this lunch in perfect balance.
- Mini Pizzas with Steamed Broccoli & Parmesan Cheese: Make this English muffin pizza by putting ½ Tbsp of tomato paste on each muffin half. Top with a slice of Jarlsberg lite cheese. You can place it in the microwave or toaster oven to melt the cheese. (I prefer the toaster oven so the cheese gets a nice golden color when it melts and the muffin becomes slightly crispy. This holds up better when the kids eat it the next day). Steam broccoli and add some salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Eating these at room temperature at school is delicious. Watch a video with Liliana (4 years old) making mini pizzas.
- Oven-baked “Fried” Chicken Tenders with Carrots & Homemade Ranch Dip: Make the chicken tenders for dinner and eat the leftovers for school lunch. Here’s the recipe for the chicken tenders. Adding the carrots and ranch dip provide a perfect balance and dipping enjoyment. Watch the video for my homemade ranch dip that Alphonso (8 years old) made.
- Vegetarian Summer Rolls: Summer rolls are delicious and packed with vegetables. I enjoy pairing my summer rolls with some edamame, orange slices, and watermelon wedges. Check out the recipe for vegetarian summer rolls.
- It’s a Wrap – a Portobello Wrap: Wraps are a fun twist on the classic sandwich. Enjoy a grilled portobello mushroom wrap which already has many colors from the vegetables included in it. Enjoy a handful of nuts on the side for a nicely balanced lunch.
- Spaghetti & Meatball Leftovers: Yes: you can have leftovers for lunch. Spaghetti and meatballs are delicious and hold up great for lunch the following day. This is a very simple lunch because there’s no additional prep after dinner. Here is a recipe for my husband’s homemade pasta sauce with meatballs.
- Pulled Turkey Sandwiches with Cabbage and Carrot Slaw: Use leftover turkey or rotisserie chicken for this dish, shred it, and just add barbecue sauce. This recipe is so easy to make and is a winner for most people. The slaw provides a little acid to offset the sweet from the barbecue sauce along with fiber, vitamins, and nutrients from the veggies. Here’s a recipe for the pulled turkey sandwiches and slaw. Tip: when making the sandwiches, wrap the bread in a separate bag or saran wrap so it doesn’t get soggy from the pulled turkey. Depending on the age of the child, he/she can assemble the sandwich at school.
- Chicken Tortas – The Latin Sandwich: This sandwich is very hearty. Depending on the age of your child, you can just give the child half the sandwich. This sandwich provides a complete meal because it has the bread, chicken, and veggies all inside. Here’s the recipe for chicken tortas.
- Pita Pocket Medley: Instead of using regular bread for a sandwich, put the fillings into a pita. Pitas can provide pizzazz and switch up the standard sandwich. Click HERE for some great pita sandwich ideas. All of the pita ideas include protein and color from fruits and/or vegetables. You can always pair the pita pocket with an additional piece of fruit for some added fiber.
Enjoy all your lunch options. And remember that Kids Eat Right Month may be happening now, and it’s something to continue throughout the year.
Still looking for more lunch ideas? Check out 10 Bento Lunch Ideas.
Sarah Koszyk, MA, RD