It’s Sunday night, and you’re planning for the week ahead. This week is going to be different, you think. This week you’re going to make five complete, wholesome packed lunches for your kids. You’re going to get everyone to eat kale. And quinoa.
OK, maybe kale is a little ambitious.
We’ve all been there, and we recognize the struggle. But it is possible to pack a variety of lunches that your kiddos won’t trade for a pudding cup or toss in the cafeteria trash can. And we promise you won’t have to spend hours in the kitchen, either. Here are some of our favorite ideas.
1. Second-Day Meals
Remove the pressure of making a lunch from scratch, and use leftovers from last night’s dinner:
- Chop up grilled chicken and add lettuce, tomatoes, sliced bell peppers and shredded cheese to a flour tortilla for a fun fajita wrap
- Pair leftover meatballs with slices of provolone for a new take on the sub sandwich
- Reheat a half-serving of ziti or another baked pasta dish
- Shred chicken, pork or steak for barbecue sandwiches
If you plan on packing meals that need to stay hot, consider investing in a leak-proof insulated food jar, which is perfect for soups and pasta dishes. Some meals – like the meatball sub and barbecue sandwiches mentioned above – may require a little assembly at lunchtime. Simply pack the bread and cold sandwich ingredients separately from the meat so the bread doesn’t get soggy.
Tip: To support your kids’ digestive health*, try Align Jr. Chewables – gluten free probiotic chewables in a great-tasting cherry smoothie flavor.
2. Make-Ahead Lunches
Save time by prepping several days’ lunches in advance:
- Combine ingredients for a salad in a Mason jar, and shake it with dressing on the day it will be eaten
- Portion out sides like baby carrots and grapes into baggies, and keep them in the fridge for convenience
- Invest in a few plastic or stainless steel storage containers with compartments to separate each food. (Need more compartments? Use muffin tin liners to keep toppings and sides separated.) Label the containers with family members’ names so they can grab and go
3. Creative Alternatives
Get inspiration from the prepackaged lunches at the grocery store. Try the pizza party or fish taco recipes we came up with.
Tip: Tired of the same old sandwich? Ditch it and sub in one of these alternatives instead.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Have a go-to packed lunch your kids can’t resist? Share your ideas in the comments section.