A Week of Simple & Healthy School Lunches

By Colleen McTiernan

 From arranging drop off and pick up schedules to getting the kiddos back into the swing of getting up early and doing homework, the beginning of the school year can be overwhelming! Just thinking about preparing lunches, let alone healthy lunches, can be enough to send you into a panic! But with these easy ideas, you will be able to send your kiddos into the cafeteria with confidence.

 Monday

Breakfast for lunch!

2 whole wheat waffles

Banana

Peanut butter

Almond slivers

Heat the waffles according to package directions, then spread about a tablespoon of peanut butter across the top of each waffle. Slice up the banana and place half of the slices on top of one waffle and half of the slices on the other. Sprinkle with almond slivers for an open-faced waffle sandwich!

Pack your child some plain yogurt topped with her favorite berries to complete the meal!

Tuesday

Buffalo chicken wrap

1 chicken breast

3 tablespoons hot sauce (we recommend Frank’s RedHot)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup broccoli florets

¼ cup shredded cabbage or shredded lettuce

Whole wheat wrap

1 tablespoon light ranch or blue cheese dressing

Shredded cheese of your choice

Prepare this one the night before! Combine hot sauce and olive oil together in a small bowl and set aside.

Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and season with salt and pepper.

In the meantime, heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add a teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet and cook the chicken for about 6 minutes. Add the hot sauce mixture to the pan and allow the chicken to absorb the sauce, about 2 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.

Over medium heat, add the broccoli to the same skillet and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Spread the dressing on the wrap, and then add the chicken, broccoli, shredded cabbage (or lettuce) and cheese. Roll tightly and cut in half.

Pack your child some celery sticks and baby carrots to complete the meal!

Wednesday

Breakfast for lunch, round 2

Plain bagel thins

Lettuce

Tomato

3 slices deli turkey

2 slices Swiss cheese

Place one slice of cheese on each bagel half. Place lettuce and a slice of tomato on one half, and turkey on the other, then combine. Cut the sandwich in half so it is easier for little hands to eat.

Serve with apple slices and pretzels to complete the meal!

Thursday

A spin on the classic PB&J

2 slices of bread

Almond butter

Sliced strawberries

Spread almond butter on each of your two slices of bread and then top with strawberries before combining the two sides. To add a bit of pizzazz to this sandwich, use sandwich cutters or even cookie cutters to give it a fun shape!

Serve with cheese cubes and sliced cherry tomatoes to complete the meal!

Friday

Ham and cream cheese pinwheels

Tortilla (leave out for a gluten-free version)

2 thin slices of deli ham

Reduced fat cream cheese

1 pickle spear (or a quartered slice of cucumber)

Lay your tortilla flat and spread cream cheese evenly across it. Cover the tortilla with the slices of ham — it is OK if the slices overlap! Place the pickle spears at one end of the tortilla, and then roll up your tortilla into log shape. Cut your rollup into 1-inch pieces.

Serve with sliced grapes and your kiddo’s favorite cookie to complete the meal!

*For gluten-free version, place cream cheese on the ham slices instead of on the tortilla.

Do not forget to use an ice pack or thermos to keep lunches fresh through the day!