Ah, school lunch. Day after day, it’s tempting to toss a Lunchables in the backpack and call it a meal. But as our tweens grow and work hard to focus in class, it’s vital to provide them with food that’s both nutritious (fuel for the body and brain) and appealing (so they’ll actually eat it instead of mooching cookies off a friend). As many parents know, that’s quite a tall order. But it can be done!
Here are some quick and easy ideas for healthy lunch box meals for the tweens in your household.
Wrap it up. So many nutrient-rich ingredients can be disguised inside a tasty wrap sandwich. Try whole-grain tortillas stuffed with lean turkey or ham, protein-packed cheese or hummus, and plenty of sliced or shredded veggies such as red or green peppers, cucumbers, olives, carrots, spinach and more. Pack a small container of dipping sauce for added fun on the side. Consider cutting the wrap into bite-size pinwheels for tweens with loose teeth or braces.
Fruit and nuts. In a pinch, a baggie of dried fruit, nuts, and dark chocolate chips can sustain your tween with protein and fiber through the afternoon. Try spreading peanut or almond butter inside a pita pocket and filling it with fresh strawberries or banana pennies.
Grab-and-go “snack” lunch. Who says lunch needs to consist of a main entrée? Keep your fridge and cupboards stocked with quick grab-and-go components such as hard-boiled eggs, single-serving containers of yogurt or guacamole, whole-grain chips and crackers, veggie sticks, berries or grapes, or bottles of 100% fruit and vegetable smoothies. All-natural or organic snack bars such as Larabar, Luna, Clif or Kind are also great for tossing in the lunch sack to round out a healthy meal.
Nacho average lunch. Make lunch a Mexican fiesta by packing a stash of tortilla chips and all the sides. Think black beans, salsa, grilled chicken chunks, lettuce, avocado slices, shredded cheese and more. Package each in baggies or small plastic containers and let your tween stack all the ingredients on a paper plate to nosh on nachos for her mid-day fuel.
Leftovers! If your child has access to a microwave at lunchtime, pack a healthy portion of leftovers from whatever you ate for dinner the night before. There’s no extra prep involved, and you’ll be certain your child is eating something kid-tested and Mom-approved.
Whatever you choose to pack, once in a while include a little note from Mom or Dad reminding your tween how much you love her and that Jesus loves her, too. These days she might act too grown-up for lunch notes, but she’s not. She needs your encouragement just as much now as she did when she was little—or maybe more.