School Lunch Ideas

I’ve been wracking my brains for quick and appealing (to the kids) cold lunch ideas.  This is the first year our pre-schooler needs a school lunch and I have been used to reheating whatever leftovers we have around and throwing together a lunch.  Well, those days are gone.  Now, pre-planning is the name of the game.

I have been talking to my pre-schooler, M, about what she would like to see in her lunch.  She already has a good idea of what is healthy food and I will include her planning lunches for the week.  But I still need some rough ideas to guide that discussion.

Her school has some food rules.  Luckily, it is not a nut-free school – they instead choose to be “allergy sensitive” which means making the children aware of the issue rather than banning nuts and other potential allergens outright.  But there is absolutely no sharing.  They feel it prepares kids with allergies for life outside school and home, and I tend to agree but I don’t have kids with allergies.  Also the school has banned juice and rightly, other sugary drinks.  No prepackage lunchable things, and no sweets.  I’m not entirely clear if the “no sweets” rule includes a Paleo muffin, but we will find out shortly!

Before we delve further into food ideas, let’s review the actual composition of a Paleo meal.  It should include:

  • a lean protein source,
  • a healthy fat, and
  • vegetables and fruit (i.e. the carbs but not potatoes).

Now you may be thinking “Ack, what are my kids going to eat?” and I can understand your panic.  Kids are notoriously picky eaters, and what they consume with gusto one day may be looked upon with scorn the next.  It can certainly be a source of frustration for parents, myself included, especially when our two year old decided she would boycott chicken.  This from the kid that ate two drumsticks at a time.

In any case, I believe that food needs to look appealing and smell good too, since those are the two sense that are engaged before we even put food in our mouths.  Just keep that in mind when meal planning.

Our lunch box has 4 containers – 1 large, 1 medium and 2 small.

Lunch Idea 1: Cold Cuts Roll Ups

  • Cold sliced meats (e.g. nitrate free deli cuts) wrapped around cucumber sticks & grated carrot
  • Sliced peppers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Paleo banana muffin (see the recipe from Rubies and Radishes)

Lunch Idea 2: Chicken Salad Boats

  • Chicken salad (recipe from Everyday Paleo) in butter lettuce “boats”
  • Celery sticks with almond butter and raisins
  • Black olives
  • Fruit – plums or apple

Lunch Idea 3: Cucumber Sandwiches

  • Cucumber sandwiches filled with nitrate-free garlic sausage
  • Sliced peppers, carrots and dill pickles
  • Almond butter and apple slices
  • Fresh green beans (from our garden)

So those are my ideas for now.  In future, I think I will invest in a good thermos and send warm meals, especially when the weather turns cold.

Next steps: discuss with M, take her grocery shopping and make lunch!  I am planning on documenting the lunches – before and after pictures – to share with you and see what works and what doesn’t. I’d also love to hear what you are packing in school (or work) lunches.

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