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We all want our kids to eat healthy. While it’s easy to control what they eat at home, when they go out into the jungle that is school, it’s much more challenging. So many lunchboxes are filled with bright colors and sugary sweets. Of course, your kids don’t want to be that kid with the healthy snacks and boring flavors. But who says a natural lunchbox can’t be fun and flavorful? Check out these options for your child’s natural lunchbox.
The food industry should be ashamed of what they have done to bread. Have you ever seen the video of people from other countries trying American bread? I tried to find it and I can’t. Bummer. The whole thing was about how insanely sweet our bread is compared to that of other countries. Our commercial bread is chock full of sugar and corn syrup. Not cool. Here are some sandwiches that taste best on homemade bread. Plus, they step out of the usual PB&J comfort zone (which is handy since many schools are going peanut-free).
Fancy and easy? Yes, please! These Turkey & Cheese Sushi on a Stick look really cute and they’re very easy to throw together. Often an unappreciated sandwich just needs a face lift.
Another fun rolled up type of sandwich are these Grilled Cheese Roll-Ups. They are just as good at room temperature as they are when served hot.
Did you know you can make your own Uncrustable Sandwiches? The only thing I don’t love is that they won’t work with homemade sandwich bread – I know, I tried – but I’m sure they are still healthier than the store bought kinds.
Sometimes you just need extraordinary bread to take a traditional sandwich from sad to fab. How about some Rainbow Swirl Bread.
Fun Fruit & Veggies Sides
Fruits and vegetables are a hard sell with kids. This is especially true when their friends are bringing brightly colored, sugar filled snacks. Although many schools are restricting what can be deemed as a snack, a lot of junk food still squeaks through. These ideas make fruit and veggies a bit more exciting.
Kids may balk at an ordinary apple in their lunchbox, but you might win them over with one of these awesome apple dips. Chocolate almond, classic caramel, and maple bacon (just to name a few).
Okay, dehydrated banana might seem a little out there, but they are actually really delicious. I made this Banana Jerky and had one kiddo that couldn’t get over the appearance. Once he saw his brother and sister chowing down on them, he joined in and loved them.
Plain old carrot sticks might not be much fun, but Fermented Carrots make for a sweet treat.
The word granola may make you think you are picking out a healthy snack, but many commercial granola bars are loaded with junk. There are healthy versions on the market, but they cost and arm and a leg. If I only had one kiddo, I might be able to absorb the cost, but with three kids, I just can’t afford them. Check out these healthy and cost-effective options.
No-bake is an instant A+ recipe for this busy mom. Chewy gets two thumbs up from the kiddos. Put them together and you have an award-winning granola bar. These No Bake Chewy Granola Bars offer mix-in suggestions that taste great as well as some that sneak in nutrition.
With chocolate and peanut butter, these Grab & Go Granola Bars are an easy way to say goodbye to Mr. Quaker. I made these last weekend and the kids preferred them over their commercial counterparts.
I love Lara Bars, but I don’t care for the price. Let’s be honest, we want our kids to eat healthy, but we can’t break the bank doing it. Here’s a recipe for DIY Lara Bars that won’t hurt the budget.
Okay, not a granola bar per say, but easy Trail Mix for Kids packs a nutritious punch for the kid needing a pick-me-up midday.
I’ll admit, protein is a nutrient that tends to be a bit lacking in my 1/2 vegetarian 1/2 not home. Often I make a traditional meal and omit the meat from the plates of those that don’t eat it (just adding a bit more of the veggies). That’s why I love these Coconut Protein Bars. They make up for what we are missing.
Fruit Snacks/Roll Ups
Kids love them. Parents hate them, but will nab some when no one is looking. Fruit snacks. They’re full of sugars, corn syrup, and artificial dyes. You won’t find much “fruit” in them at all. In fact, did you know that fruit snacks and gummy bears contain almost the same ingredients? The average pack of fruit snacks contain about 2 1/2 tsp of sugar. Check out some other healthier options that will still please picky eaters.
With just three ingredients (one of them being water), you’ll love these Zucchini Gummies. Don’t let the vegetable content freak you out. They’re yummy!
Who doesn’t love pumpkin pie? Unfortunately, it’s hard to pack it in a lunch box. Good news! I found a recipes for Portable Pumpkin Pie. Pie as a fun fruit leather.
These strawberry-banana gummies are truly made with love. Heart shape is optional, but super cute.
Crabapples can be a hard sell to kids. They tend to be tart and/or sour. Transform them into Crabapple Fruit Leather and they’ll be a hit. Plus, most owners of crabapple trees only keep them for aesthetics and they will happily let you harvest the fruit.
This juice making tutorial requires a juicer/steamer, but hey, now you can justify the purchase of a new kitchen toy!
It’s easy to make homemade juice with a blender if you don’t have a juicer. Here are four easy homemade juice recipes to get you started. Just strain with a mesh colander to make them more kid-friendly.
It can be hard to come up with new lunch box ideas, or any meal for that matter. The
Healthy Living Bundle has 23 books just on real food, with great titles like Real Food
for Rookies, The Tired & Hungry Cook’s Companion, and 227 Healthy Snacks. Also be sure to enter our Healthy Living Giveaway. No purchase necessary.
The Aesthetics of a Natural Lunchbox
Okay, I’m willing to admit to a deep, dark secret here. I want to be Mom of the Year (or at least other moms think I am). Yes, health and wellness of my children is of the utmost importance, but cheers from the other moms feels good. If you’re going to go through the trouble of making a natural lunch and snack, it really should be presented nicely. In other words, say no to disposable plastic baggies.
Here are some of the reusable containers that I love. Not only do they keep trash out of landfills, they look cute and even teach responsibility (ask my son if he ever forgets to bring home his washable sandwich bag).
These Slim Snack containers are so fun! You can use them for snacks during the school year and for making ice pops during summer break. They are made from BPA-free food grade silicone and hold up nicely to kids that tend to just stuff things back into their lunchboxes.
I am a huge fan of fabric bags lined with PUL, but they made it really hard to get a sandwich in and out without squishing. For sandwiches, I prefer wraps like these ones from Kids Konserve. I promise, the folding really isn’t hard.
Snack bags are of course the most needed item in the natural lunchbox. I love the ones by NUBY because they come in cute patterns and styles like these little monsters, but ChicoBag has more subdued designs if that’s your preference.
If a solid container is more up your alley, stainless steel is a fun way to go. They are basically indestructible, even if you have boys who haphazardly throw their bag around. LunchBots are very high quality and not too pricey. I think if you did out the math, these containers would still be cheaper than buying plastic baggies all year long.
So let your child enjoy lunchtime and keep them healthy at the same time. What is your lunchbox secret? Share it in the comments below.
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