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40 Healthy School Lunch Recipes to Make for Your Kids

September 14, 2010


There is something for everyone in this list

Here are some great dishes to feed your kids instead of Chicken Nuggets, and other bad foods with high amounts of sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Take a shoot at it what do you as a parent have to lose?  Stop feeding your kids junk food….

September always seems to me a more sensible time for the new year than January. Hopefully, everybody is fresh and relaxed from the summer. The hot, muggy weather has made way for the crisp air and cool nights of autumn. How well I remember the first day of school each September with my kids in their new clothes, excited but a little anxious as well about the new teacher, new classroom, new friends. My son came home each day for lunch until Grade 4, when suddenly it hit me – I had to make lunch everyday.

It’s not that my son was a picky eater, although he wasn’t keen on vegetables, but he had certain attitudes to food. He didn’t, for instance, much like sandwiches, especially peanut butter, that mainstay of many a lunchbox. So for about the next 8 years I sent him to school every day with a hot lunch, adding my daughter to the roster somewhere along there. My children were both rowers in high school, so that involved getting up at 4:45 am to heat their lunches. I got to the point where I could do the whole thing without really opening my eyes, so I could crawl back into bed and rise at a more reasonable 7:00 am. It wasn’t so bad, as my husband was the one who had to take them down to the waterfront and stand there in the cold while they rowed.

The key to making lunches, as with everything in life, is being organized. You don’t need to make special meals every day, use leftovers whenever you can. However, I can tell you from hard experience that it is best to label containers in the fridge as lunch food, to avoid midnight snackers making off with the kid’s lunch. Certain types of foods travel better than others. Chili, stews, casseroles, soups all work well in a thermos, pastas get a bit gluey, and Chinese noodles swell up and soak up all the liquid, as can rice if you put too much in. If you have a crock pot, you can get a stew cooking the night before and just dish it up straight into the thermos.

Invest in a thermos and a resusable lunch bag with some thermal capacity to keep sandwiches cool, but don’t spend tons of money, because you’ll have to replace it when they lose it, and trust me, they will, especially younger children. Go to the dollar store and buy a bunch of cheap reusable forks that are just for the lunch box, so you won’t be upset when your kitchen flatware goes missing. Use small reusable containers for their snacks and drinks as well. These days lots of school lunch rooms have microwaves, which makes things much easier.

For the Picky Eater

If your child is a picky eater, you already know how hard it is to find something they will eat. The good news is that their school peers can have a positive influence on their willingness to try new things, and sometimes that translates into a new food they will eat. Part of the trick is to keep offering them interesting new things until they eventually try it.

My absolute fall back was a honey-soy chicken dish that every kid I ever fed loved. A close approximation is this Soy Glazed Hot Pot made in a crock pot. You can add a bit of honey to it if you like.

Most kids love peanut butter and jelly, so make your own grape jelly now, while grapes are in season.

chicken noodle souppg.jpg
Photo: Kelly Rossiter

What kid doesn’t love Chicken Noodle Soup? Forget the packaged kind and make your own, just leave out the mushrooms if your child doesn’t like them.

Kids love hot pockets but they are full of fats and chemicals. Try Sara’s take on this favourite.

Who doesn’t love pizza? You can make individual flatbread pizzas and tailor them to your child’s tastes.

All the corner stores in our neighbourhood sell dried out Jamaican patties. Making your own is easy, healthier and much better tasting.

My daughter had a school friend who would only eat white bread, boiled chicken and raw carrot sticks. Even she liked my soda bread. You can send cut up fruits and vegetables or some homemade jam along with it.

Pita bread is a great choice for lots of kids and you can stuff them with all sorts of things.Emeril has a recipe for egg salad in pita that sounds delicious.

Lots of kids love baked beans and this recipe for Maple Baked Beans is sweet enough to appeal without being cloying. Also a great crock pot choice.

For some reason most kids like carrots, even if they don’t like other vegetables. I guess it’s because of their natural sweetness. Take advantage and make some carrot soup.

For the Adventurous Eater

Here is a great alternative to tuna sandwiches. Make chickpea salad sandwiches instead.

Another wonderful thing to make in the crock pot once the weather gets colder is beef stew.

If your kid likes to build their own lunch, try some Bahn Mi and they can make their own sandwich at school.

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

My kids both loved spring rolls. Wrap them in paper towels to absorb any grease, and they should heat in the microwave quite well. Add a little container of homemade Chinese Plum Sauce as well.

Devilled ham and pickle sandwiches is one of my mother’s favourite things. Makes a great lunch.

In September when it’s still warm, try sending a pasta salad along. If you don’t have trout, add tuna, or add more vegetables and make it vegetarian.

Photo: Kelly Rossiter
With the fall comes pumpkins, so make some pumpkin soup.

Try making some Sweet Potato Buns to go along with soups or salads.

If your child likes Indian food, then they will love these samosas.

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

Here’s a tasty vegan sun-dried tomato spread that is really popular.

For the Vegetarian Eater

I love falafels, but there is a lot of oil involved. You can make some sunflower seed falafels and bake them for a healthier alternative.

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

Quesadillas are a fairly new thing for me. There are lots of possibilities for fillings and you can eat them at room temperature or put them in the microwave.

The number of vegetarian stews you can make are endless. Here is a one pot bean stew that is delicious and easy.

Here is a wonderful ginger kale and tofu that you can make in your crock pot.

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

This chickpea and spinach is a cross between a soup and a stew and would work really well in a thermos.

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

Most kids I know love hummus. Send along some pita bread and some cut up vegetables that they can dip.

Butternut squash soup is one of my daughter’s favourites and she was always happy to see it in her thermos.

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

This Mushroom Tofu Stew isn’t pretty to look at, but it tastes great and you can make the whole thing in one pot.

Here’s another one pot meal of Chickpea Curry which would make a great lunch.

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

Another pasta salad, this one with cherry tomatoes and a green olive paste for the vegetarian.

Snacks and Desserts

Most kids are really only getting through the main course to reach the desserts and snacks. It’s easy to toss in prepackaged goodies, but resist the temptation because it is so much healther, cheaper and greener to make them yourself.

Making your own Oatmeal Raisin Granola Bars is a snap and your kids will love them.

How about some healthy carrot cake cupcakes?

Of you can try my daughter’s favourite chocolate cupcakes.

Cookies are always easy, and our family favourite is my mother’s fantastic chewy ginger cookies.

Another simple cookie to make are shortbread cookies which I make every year around Christmas time.

My daughter loves to bake and she made some snickerdoodles which were quite simple, but very tasty. And really, what kid wouldn’t love to tell their friends that they had snickerdoodles in their lunch box.

If you have a child who is vegan, here is a recipe for vegan chocolate cookies.

Most kids love apples, and here is an apple crisp recipe you can make with them.

Even though strawberries aren’t in season now, you can still use frozen berries for this strawberry bread.

If your child likes savoury rather than sweet treats, then try this Crispy Chickpeas.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 23, 2010 7:01 pm

    Maintain up the great work mate. This website article shows how well you comprehend and know this subject.

  2. November 6, 2010 9:33 pm

    To the poster above get your info straight

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