The summer is beginning to come to an end and harvest season is just around the corner. This means school will be starting up soon! I've already begun to see school supplies and back to school deals in our local stores, which gets me excited to get creative in the kitchen for some quick and easy school lunches.
Now, although these lunches are geared towards school-aged children, I must admit that these are some of my and my husband's favorites as well. Most of the time, I will simply make extra food for dinner to have leftovers for lunch; but sometimes I like to change things up a bit. Like most people, especially parents, I have very little time to make dinner, let alone lunch for just myself and hubby. Healthy eating is a priority of mine, so going out more than once per week is out of the question. So, through this process, I have learned how to make quick and healthy meals within a budget. The recipes below are the result of this.
When planning lunches for kids, it is important to keep a few key things in mind:
Lots of color- kids love colors; just look at all the artificial colors you see in cereals and snacks and even packaging! It is there for a reason- to catch the kid's attention.
Small portions of multiple foods. Some kids get bored easily with eating a big bowl of something (I, on the other hand love it!). To make sure they are eating enough, try to provide small portions of multiple foods. For example:, 1/2 sandwich, celery and hummus, yogurt, fruit and a treat. This also allows the child to save any leftovers for a snack later.
Keep the flavors simple and easy to eat; kids do not want to take time away from their play.
Then there are a few tricks you can use to make sure their lunch is tasty, satisfying, and nutritious:
Add fruits and veggies as sides and provide a dip
Pack in protein
Use a favorite food as a vessel to try new foods
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Protein Caramel Apple Dippers
Let's start with something sweet. If you have been looking for a quick and healthy snack to take on-the-go, then this is it! Packed with protein and fiber, your kids will never know their caramel apple dippers are actually healthy!
Here's what you'll need:
Apples, sliced and cored, keeping the skin on
1 can unsalted garbanzo beans (also known as chick peas), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 Tablespoons nut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla powder (or extract)
cinnamon to taste
If you are taking these on the go and do not have the ability to slice right before serving, be sure to squeeze a little lemon juice on the apple slices to prevent browning.
Otherwise, simply slice the apples, blend the remaining ingredients together and serve!
NOTE: the dip usually tastes best after being refrigerated for at least an hour, but if you don't have that kind of time, it is great right out of the blender too!
This taco wrap is quick and easy. To make it even more fun (and easy for you!), there I have packed all the ingredients individually, so it can be assembled when lunchtime comes. As with any recipe, you can swap ingredients to fit the favorite foods of your child.
Here's what you'll need for 2-4 servings:
1 can fat free refried beans (these are accidentally vegan!)
2 Tablespoons taco seasoning
2 cups of cooked or fresh greens (I used sauteed kale because I had it on hand, but lettuce would do just fine here as well)
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup dairy free cheese shreds
2 large pita breads or 4 small
Simply mix together the taco seasoning and beans and chop your ingredients. Then, put into storage containers for easy traveling. When ready to eat, pack the fillings into the pita pocket and top with the dairy free cheese. If available, you can also heat the beans up before enjoying.
For a little extra nutritional boost, serve with salsa and an apple.
Out of the three recipes today, this one is by far the easiest. All you have to do is back some potato rounds and pack with a dipping sauce. Delicious on its own, I thought I'd try to be a little more creative with another build your own "pizza". The potato acts as the crust, then you top it with cause and "cheese".
Here's what you'll need:
4 large yellow potatoes, sliced into rings
BBQ sauce (check the label for brands without Worcestershire sauce)
Vegan Parmesan (1/2 cup raw cashews, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast and a pinch of salt- pulse to a powder and enjoy!)
Set your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place your potato rounds. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a fork can easily poke through. Place in a to go container with sauce and parm. Enojy!
If you like these, check out my latest video for a quick and easy breakfast on the go!
If you try one of these recipes, I would love to know what you think or tag me on a picture on IG (@TheYogiRD)