The Big List of Lunch Ideas

Are you ever stumped on what to make for lunch for your homeschool or preschool kids? Homeschoolers do have the advantage because they can eat healthier mom-approved foods at home, and take more time for lunch if they want; but if Mom is frazzled, not prepared, or at a loss for what to make, it can get boring – or worse, she might resort to fast food more than she should (ahem, I’m ashamed to say I’ve done my fair share of that).

To prevent YOU or ME from ending up in the drive-thru lane or eating the same turkey sandwich lunch over and over, I thought I would share a few ideas with you on some healthy lunch alternatives. I’ve been working hard for a while now to eliminate transfats, GMOs, artificial ingredients and sweeteners, enriched or white wheat flours, MSG, added sugars, corn syrups, and other unhealthy ingredients, too… so I am listing items that WE EAT here – honesty is important – but if it is something I know isn’t the healthiest choice, I’ll make sure and note that beside the item on the list. Things that are organic are also listed as such (yay for organic!).

{ Keep reading below for a long list of lunch ideas … }

IMG_8217-altered

I also have preschoolers in my house – two teens/two tots – and I’m trying hard to get the little guys to eat veggies. My newest trick is to try Bento out. Bento is the Japanese food art craze that involves just a little artistic trickery to make veggies and fruits more exciting for the little ones. Check out my awesome Mac & Cheese Lion Bento plate:

Cheese and tomato mushrooms ❤ #bento #foodie

Here’s a list of foods included in my easy Bento box (took only about 20 minutes to make this, including cooking the mac & cheese while I chopped and arranged the plate):

– Fresh blueberries
– Green grapes (for the heart)
– Toothpick (for the heart)
– Unsalted pumpkin Seeds (for the grass/ground around mushrooms)
– Grape tomatoes (for mushroom tops)
– Organic Valley Colby-Jack Stringles Cheese Sticks (for mushroom stalks)
– Fresh broccoli (for the bush)
– Carrots (for the grass, flower)
– Celery (for the grass, lion’s teeth)
– Black olive, slivers – just one olive works (for lion’s eyes)
– Red/Purple onion (sliver – tiny triangle for lion’s nose)
– Small bit of queso fresco cheese (lion’s mouth)
– Round cut out of American Cheese – note: not healthy, would have used cheddar if I had it (for lion’s face)
– Green sweet pea (for flower center)
– Annie’s Organic 5 Grain White Cheddar Mac & Cheese, Amaranth • Quinoa • Kamut • Spelt • Durum (for lion mane)

Starting lunch... with a few yummy #review items (shhh! I already buy this stuff; can't hurt to get a few free)

And to round off the meal and make it filling, we added Funky Monkey Applemon apple-cinnamon dehydrated fruit chips, a Stonyfield Yogurt Squeezers organic lowfat yogurt tube, some Annie’s Homegrown Cinnamon Bunny Grahams made with organic wheat… oh, and a small chocolate from IKEA – just the right size for a toddler.

Note: The Late July sweet potato tortilla chips were what mama snacked on while she was creating Bento magic for the toddlers.

Guess what???! My little ones ATE THEIR VEGGIES AND FRUIT! Very little was left. And the silliness of the display made them giggle and smile (worth my effort for sure).

Bento Mac & Cheesy Lion #foodie #growl

I guess we’ll be doing more Bento in the future. However, there are other ways to get your veggies and fruit in. “Muffin-Tin” lunches are also fun for toddlers. Even my big kids like creating them. Basically, you just put a different fun finger-food in each muffin tin cup and serve it – easy peasy.

Whatever you do for lunch, please try as hard as you can to make it as HEALTHY as you can for your kids. A lot of research suggests that behavioral issues are linked to the foods we eat.

Do your research. Educate yourself with books like Nourishing Traditions, Healthy Mom, and The Unhealthy Truth.

Take little steps each day to move away from processed foods and start shopping the perimeter. Stop eating out and save pennies to add to your organic grocery budget. Join a local produce co-op like Bountiful Baskets to add fresh things to your dishes. You can do it!

foodmedicine
(Quote by Ann Wigmore, graphic from Pinterest)

Here below is a list of lunch ideas that we frequently alternate in to our menu…

HEALTHY LUNCH IDEAS:

  • Leftovers (easy warm-up meals are quick and healthy)
  • Nachos
  • Soup (I make my own – rarely do we eat store-bought soup)
  • Green leafy salads
  • Tuna, chicken or egg salad (mama likes to eat hers in raw fresh jalapenos, halved), served on bread, lettuce or with crackers to dip
  • Baked potatoes
  • Pasta salads
  • Sandwiches and chips (chip brands we love: Late July healthy tortilla chips – besides their green flavor – too salty, Humbles Baked Hummus Chips, Lundberg rice chips, Garden of Eatin’ Blue Corn Chips, and many other organic chips)
  • Hotdogs or Corndogs served with beans or chili
  • Chicken nuggets (Applegate are our favorite) or fishsticks (haven’t found a healthy one yet) with fries and a side vegetable
  • Mac n Cheese (love Annie’s 5 Grain Organic, and sometimes we add extra cheeses to it)
  • Fried potatoes with sausage and home made Russian sour kraut
  • Ramen noodles (don’t judge – once a month I let my kids eat these – SO unhealthy)
  • Bacon, lettuce & tomato wraps
  • Pizza (either store bought, home made, or even variations on wrap tortillas, etc)

Tortilla Pizzas #quick #easy #lunch

Note: a healthy low-carb, whole-grain garlic and herb flavored tortilla, some organic cheeses, and organic tomato sauce makes a tasty and quick lunch! That’s what we had today and I literally spent less than five minutes putting them together.

  • Bacon egg and cheese sandwiches (with lettuce, mayo, and grated organic cheese – on toasted Ezekiel Bread)
  • Wraps or lettuce wraps
  • Tacos of all sorts
  • Quesadillas
  • Burgers
  • Bento (fancy finger foods)
  • Muffin Tin Lunches (finger foods)

Sides:

  • Organic Yogurt such as Stonyfield or Brown Cow (also owned by Stonyfield – and man, is that Maple Cream Top good!)
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Linwoods flax or hemp seed mixes (secretly added to dishes like smoothies, sandwiches or salads)
  • Fresh veggies
  • Organic cheese sticks such as Organic Valley
  • Olives
  • Pickles, usually home made by uncle Joe (mama’s favorite are brine pickles)
  • Crackers (kids love Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies best, but often we get larger crackers to put cheese on)
  • Organic sliced cheeses (mama’s favorite is Corazon de Ronda 3-month aged sheep’s milk Manchego, #swoon!)

Dessert Time:

  • Bits of chocolate (mama’s favorite is Chocolove Dark Chocolate Chilis & Cherries, but everyone likes the Almonds & Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate)
  • Cookies (home made, Newman’s Own Organics Chocolate Chip Cookies, #swoon! or Annie’s Bunny Grahams)
  • Kozy Shack Puddings
  • Canned or fresh fruits (be sure to check your dirty dozen list before buying produce!)
  • Raisins or other dehydrated fruits (fresh gourmet raisins from California or your own dehydrated grapes are best)
  • Kashi Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies (mama’s treat)
  • Small glass of organic or raw milk (Mmmmm!)

As for drinks – my faves are listed below…

Drinks:

  • Water
  • Sparkling Water – HEB Brand is our favorite, but we also love LaCroix (no sweeteners added)
  • Santa Cruz Organic Juices
  • Honest Teas (Mama’s favorite – which she’s sometimes guilty of hiding from the kids – is Pomegranite Red Tea with Goji Berry, #swoon!)
  • Sweet Leaf Tea (my oldest likes the Mint & Honey)
  • Honest Kids (tea and fruit juice pouches)
  • RW Knudsen’s Organic Blueberry Essence Sparkling Water
  • RW Knudsen Organic Juices and sparkling juices
  • RW Knudsen’s sparkling Spritzers (we love all the flavors, but grape is a family fave)
  • Home made tea with natural and/or organic sweeteners
  • Hot green tea (my favorite being Yogi Goji Berry)

NOTE: it is BLUE MOON rare that my kids drink any carbonated sodas with high fructose corn syrups or refined sugars and we NEVER drink anything with artificial chemical sweeteners like Splenda, Aspartame, or Saccharine. No pink, yellow, or blue for us!

I just might continue to edit and add things to the post as I go along and keep it from becoming outdated. Also, I’ve decided while making this list that it would be helpful to make similar lists for breakfasts we love, snacks we love, and favorite dinners. This might just help my menu planning exponentially. I hope it will help you, too.

Check back later on for more posts in this “series” as I get time to dig through the old menus and sketch out my notes. Until then…

{ Happy lunching! }

In His Grip,

Heather

Subscribe to Sprittibee by Email

P.S. Need more ideas for lunch? Four organic and natural brands: Stonyfield, Honest Tea, Organic Valley, and Annie’s Homegrown partnered to help parents out with widespread “lunchbox preparation fatigue”. They started the “Rock the Lunch Box” campaign – a free resource that delivers ideas, tips and COUPONS (HELLO! $$$) for natural and organic products just in time for back to school. Check out their website!

Disclaimer: Some of these items were given to me free to review at one point or another – some recently and some years ago, however this is not a sponsored post and all of my opinions are my own.

Comments

  1. Elevenarrows says

    Great ideas! I have eleven kids and we eat the way you do. Just thought I’d share my go-to lunch idea. For a super quick lunch (and often we do this for breakfast), we make plant protein smoothies in the blender. There are only cups and the blender to clean afterwards.

    I use a Vita Mix blender (commercial and strong!). I put in 8 ounces of unsweetened vanilla almond milk. I add a scoop of plant protein (I eat vegan due to digestive problems), 1 tsp of cinnamon (for blood sugar control and flavor), 1 small spoon of coconut oil (for brain health) and then I top it off with one cup of mixed frozen fruit (my favorite being blueberries and strawberries). It only takes about 30 seconds to blend. Due to the size of my family, I do have to make several batches, but with 30 seconds each, it really only takes a couple of minutes to prepare a meal for that many people.

    You can get creative with flavors and you can also sneak small amounts of kale, spinach, etc. in them without affecting the flavor kids love.

    • says

      That sounds easy! And I bet it is yummy, too. I have 2 bags of frozen blueberries right now. Might try it! I’m in love with coconut oil. I also have some swiss chard and kale to use up!

  2. Jeri says

    Ok, so I’m not stalking you. I’m way behind on my email reading and I’m proud to say I’m down from 4000 to >2700. I’m reading my way thru the last year of blog land! I’m so glad I found this list. We’re in a huge rut and we all very much HATE ham&cheese sandwiches and grilled cheese sandwiches and ramen. Except my 7yo….it’s his favorite meal.

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply