Delicious, Nutritious Back-to-School Lunch and Snack Ideas from New York Nutritionist

Forego the Family Battles with Kid and Teen-friendly Snacks

pizza

Generations change. We went from baby boomers to gen X, gen Y, millennials, and now … this new so-far-unnamed generation going through primary, middle, and high school. Ideals change. The way we work changes. Technology changes. But there’s something steadfast through all of it: that good old lunch box smell – fermented something with milk-gone-funky, accompanied with the “What did you pack for my lunch?” whine.

It’s reassuring to know that some things simply don’t change. And the frustration of finding new things to pack, creative ways to cram nutrition in tasty bites, is a challenge we’ve all faced through the ages (with the exception of the 1970s Hostess craze).

School is starting, and so are the daily packed lunch and snack battles. I hope to relieve some of the stress with these easy-to-prepare (really!), economic, nutrition-crammed, delicious snacks. I know you don’t believe me, but it’s true. There’s something for every budget and every finnicky eater.

  1. Share the challenge. You are not the only food preparer in the house. Research shows that the more involved kids are in their food prep, the more likely they will be to develop healthy eating habits. Get kids on board with everything from creating a shopping list, going to the grocery store, to mapping out a menu of lunch options. With the right guidance (you provide the choices), you’d be surprised how open they are to new flavors and ideas (in particular if they think it’s their own).
    peanutbutter
  2. Variety is the spice of life and often cheaper and healthier and better for the environment. Fresh,  in-season fruits and vegetables don’t break the bank, and ensures variety. This gives our bodies the wealth of nutrients they need. Enjoy the flavors of the August’s harvest. In fall and winter, eat pears, apples, and the crunchy fall fruits. Take your children to the Farmer’s Market.strawberry-yogurt
  3. Get creative. Try whole-wheat tortillas, pita bread, multi-grain bagels, or pumpkin pancakes instead of just … plain, sliced bread. Or, skip out on breads all together, and pack hummus, peanut butter, guacamole, or yogurt dips for fruits, vegetables, or pretzel sticks.
  4. Leftover roasted chicken, cubed and paired with your favorite cheese, leftover pizza, leftover taco makings, leftover pasta – all make for a great lunch to pack and snack on. It also ensures less waste.
  5. Muffins are a great way to give your kids a much-needed energy boost. Pear oatmeal, apple, pumpkin bran are great snack choices. Reduce sugar by 1/3 in the recipes. Your kids won’t know the difference.
  6. What’s for lunch?
    1. Roasted chicken and cheese wraps.
    2. Lettuce wraps! Chicken with a dash of teriyaki sauce in crisp lettuce leaves and sesame seeds.
    3. Fruit salad with yogurt (plain), and a sprinkle of sugar or drizzle of honey
    4. Bagel pizzas (Top a bagel with tomato sauce. Use your leftover roasted chicken, veggies, and melt mozzarella).
    5. Sub sandwiches with leftover roast beef (turkey, chicken, even meatloaf), on whole-grain breads or in a pita bread, with yummy toppings.
    6. Whole-grain pasta with edamame, cheese, tuna or leftover chicken, and other favorites. Toss with a light vinaigrette. 

      pita.sandwich

Lunchtime and snack time don’t have to be boring. Get organized with a grocery list and plan your week of lunches with your kids. Get excited about new flavors and re-inventing the classics. They will appreciate it, grumble less, eat healthier, and, hopefully, bring a little more peace to the rush-to-get-ready in the morning!