All summer, we have complete control (for the most part) over what our kids eat, because they are at home and we only buy what we need and eat before we leave or when we get home. Once school starts, all bets are off. If you’re new to this, and you’re not sure what to pack for the monkeys (or your grown-up self), here are some of the things that my kids take. Note: I fill the fridge/pantry with options. They are to pack what they want, I approve when they’re finished. We don’t have garbage food in our house, so we’re pretty safe, although there have been some all-fruit lunches I’ve had to veto. Make sure they’re getting some protein, some fat, and a veggie/fruit. ANYTHING is better than a PB&J on processed bread or -God forbid- SCHOOL LUNCH.
Options available at our cave:
- Boar’s head lunchmeat (or any brand that is gluten-free and filler-free). My kids like turkey, chicken, and ham. They then roll up whatever they want inside. Lay lunchmeat flat, throw in slaw, cheese (if your family eats dairy), veggies, etc. I also make “ham rollups” like gramma used to make, but instead of cream cheese, I used smashed avocado and a green onion. YUM.
- Leftover ‘chicken nuggets’…If you need a recipe, check out my fried chicken recipe (here) and just use cubed chicken instead of whole breasts.
- Chicken Salad, Egg salad or tuna salad wraps – I use romaine lettuce or iceberg “wraps/cups, or just serve it in a tupperware bowl with a fork. Chicken salad recipe HERE.
- Hard Boiled eggs or Devilled eggs. Instead of mayo, we use mashed avocado or just a little coconut oil, plus some dill weed. It’s delish.
- Egg cupcakes: These we mostly use for grab-n-go breakfast, but I’ll throw a couple in the lunch cooler for myself to nom on if I get hungry (rare). I got the egg cupcake recipe from www.everydaypaleo.com
- Red pepper strips. My 4 year old tried these once and got mega-hooked. Red bell peppers are sweet, and the kids love ’em. They’re also yummy inside a rollup.
- Grapes, Apple slices, berry mixed fruit salad, etc. Don’t forget to invest in tupperware/ziplock type containers. They’re cheap, reusable, and perfect for stacking inside a stay-cool lunchbox. Now they even have the separated all in one plates.
- Ants on a log: Celery stalks, fill with nut butter of your choice (not peanut) and set raisins on top like ants on a log 😉 Kids love this one.
- Homemade applesauce with cinnamon – HERE.
- Baby organic carrots, almonds, walnuts, and homemade trail mixes are all great options. Make sure you use no sugar added dried fruit for any trail mix.
- On occasion, I use Larabars. The kids love them, and they’re whole-food made. A little carb heavy for mom, but I’ll even grab one if I’m having a craving or didn’t pre-plan.
- Organic, gluten free beef jerky
- Butternut squash with coconut oil (or pasture butter) and cinnamon. This is absolutely my favorite!! Kids LOVE this.
- FINALLY, my new favorite: leftover cuddly coconut pancakes smothered with almond butter and sliced berries (Viola! PB&J ‘sandwich’!!)
I hope this gives you plenty of options. Remember: they don’t need a 7 course meal. Feed them a good, protein/fat heavy breakfast for good brain power, and they won’t even really be hungry til lunch. I put enough food in for lunch and their snack. Plus, this year I bought the lunchboxes with attached BPA free waterbottles, so there’s no extra sugary drink worries. Any other ideas you have are always welcome, we parents all need to stick together and help each other out 🙂 Love ~ Cavemomma