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We share ideas for how to make nutritious lunches your kids will eat and not throw away as well as ways to keep the environment healthy with less lunch waste including green alternatives to lunch bags and juice boxes as well as fun ways to make your kids interested in lunch!
Great containers we LOVE:
Lunchskins: Reusable sandwich and snack bags made from cute pastry bag fabrics–they saved more than 12 million plastic bags from being in landfills last year. These can be washed in the dish washer or washing machine.
Other options are available from people on Etsy, but they may not be made of food grade materials.
KlipIt by Sistema: A cool container that holds a sandwich in one place and two sides in the other side. Available at The Container Store or in Old Navy stores for a limited time. They also make other cool containers you will want to check out.
Recycled Sandwich Wrap (Original idea from Family Fun)
- Find a sturdy food grade bag (Large cereal bags, candy bags, cracker bags, Pirate’s Booty bag). The best bags are thick and have some silver lining in them–or they may be completely silver like the cereal bags inside the Costco Kirkland brand cereal boxes.
- Cut the bottom from the bag, open the side seam, and clean the bag.
- Cut it into a 10 or 12-inch square.
- Attach self-adhesive hook-and-loop dots at two opposite corners of the square, one on the front and the other on the back of the bag.
Love Notes for the Lunch Box:
You can write your own notes for your kids lunches, get some online, or get these totally cute ones with great kid-fun facts along with your note. We like “Did you Know that a Turtle breathes through is Butt? OThey are called Lunchbox Love by SayPlease.com.
Ideas for Great Lunches:
Remember to think power snack instead of full lunch since they don’t have time to eat a large meal.
- Peanut butter and crackers
- Bagel sandwich
- Rollup with cucumber, bell pepper and salad dressing
- Tortilla, spread with PB, wrapped around a banana—can add a drizzle of honey
- Tuna salad and crackers
- Quesadilla (just cheese, or add some ground beef) serve with salsa
- Hard boiled egg, roll, fruit or veggie
- Fruit smoothie: I love this trick—make several smoothies, freeze in 8 oz containers and pop them in your child’s lunch. They will defrost and be ready to stir or spoon up by lunch
- Cold pizza
- Baked chips (whole grain/healthy versions)—dips or sauces if you like
- Pretzel, cheese stick, apple/grapes
- Crackers, lunchmeat, cheese (homemade lunchable)
- Plain tortilla (dip in salsa or spaghetti sauce—or nothing)
- Bagel (loads of different flavors), apple
- Granola bar and a piece of fruit or a vegetable
- Muffins and a fruit smoothie
- Soup in a thermos
- Pasta. Fun bite sized shapes. Toss with parmesan cheese, include some sauce to dip it in. Eat like chicken nuggets!
- Dry cereal (not the sugary stuff—how did that EVER make it to our breakfast tables?)
- Biscuits and jam, stick the two sides together.
- Cookies: make with smashed beans instead of butter, applesauce for half the sugar, add raisens and nuts. Keep in freezer)
If they have a microwave:
- left over dinner
- Macaroni and cheese (add a little milk in the container so it won’t be dry when reheated)
- Soup (homemade or from a can)
- Cheese sticks/slices
- Snap peas
- Canned fruit
- Carrot sticks
- Dried apples
- Broccoli and ranch
- Bell pepper slices
Water. Really. No fruit drinks. It is a lot of money and they really need to rehydrate with some good old water. Check out the Kleen Kanteen or the SubZero Stainless steel containers instead of the plastic ones.
Cowboy Cookies (with healthy alternatives)
1 c butter OR 1 cup mashed white beans
*1 c sugar
*1 c brown sugar
1 t vanilla or 1/2 t almond extract
**2 c flour
**2 c oatmeal
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c chocolate chips
Mix butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla or almond extract. Add dry ingredients, then chocolate chips. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes.
* You can decrease the sugar or alter with sugar substitutes. If using agave, you will need to increase the flour and oatmeal until the batter is not too runny.
**For Gluten Free cookies, use gluten free flour, xanthum gum and gluten free oatmeal. Follow the instructions on your gluten free flour for quantities. I found that I had to add another 1/3 c to the recipe to make it work.
If you use beans instead of butter, you are created a “perfect protein” mix with the oatmeal. My kids could not taste the difference in the cookies and I felt less guilty about giving them something tasty.
I make a separate batch for me and lessen the sugar, use agave or xylitol and add some protein powder to make a protein cookie.