Most of the staff here at Dolphin Organics™ are busy moms with school-aged kids. We realized in June that most of our kids were taking same things to school every. single. day. We all vowed to switch it up just a little bit this year to bring some variety to their lunchboxes.
The challenge? Some of our kids are pretty picky eaters, while others have adventurous palates. We swapped tips and came up with 5 healthy ideas that can be tweaked to suit anyone's tastes.
Whether a cold pasta salad or something warm served in a Thermos, pasta makes for a satisfying lunch. For extra staying power, use a pasta that isn't made from white flour. We like gluten-free brown rice spaghetti (the thinner the noodle, the closer the taste is to flour-made pasta). Or you can use a pasta-like whole grain, like quinoa or farro, as your base instead.
Add ins: shredded cheese, olives, veggies (cooked or raw), tomato sauce, pesto, pine nuts, grilled chicken, a curry powder/oil combo, etc.
Serve with: An apple, peeled orange, plum, grapes or other easy-to-pack fruit.
Sound messy? It doesn't have to be. Plastic freezer jars make transporting vitamin-packed smoothies a possibility. Blend up your favorite combination of nutritious fruits and veggies ahead of time, then pour and freeze. Send the jar into school with a spoon. It'll be just the right consistency at lunchtime.
Add ins: Smoothie possibilities are endless. We like this kid-friendly green smoothie. Other favorites: banana berry smoothies or, for an indulgent treat, a combo of frozen banana, milk and unsweetened cocoa powder.
Serve with: Granola, crackers, nuts (if allowed), popcorn, or another carbohydrate-rich snack.
3. Something-Butter Sandwich
Many schools won't allow peanut butter in their classrooms these days, but there are tons of other smearable options. Pick your child's favorite bread and spread on something filling.
Add ins: Almond butter, sunflower butter, cashew butter, soy butter and plain old cream cheese with an all-fruit jam are favorites.
Sides: Edamame, yogurt, an easy-to-pack fruit.
4. Hard Boiled Egg
Packed with protein that keeps hunger at bay, a hard boiled egg is the easiest lunch of them all. Boil a batch on Sunday and keep them ready to pop in lunch boxes each morning. Peel just before packing so kids aren't fumbling with the shells during their all-too-brief lunch period.
Add ins: Make deviled eggs with mustard/mayo/paprika and keep in a sandwich box; slice and put on top of rice or in a salad; or dice to make an egg salad sandwich or wrap.
Serve with: Fruit, cut up carrots, celery or cucumber.
Break out that insulated container again and pack a hearty, healthy soup for lunch. Our picky eaters like chicken noodle or tomato rice, the more adventurous will nosh on Thai curry soup or veggie-packed minestrone and pasta fagioli.
Add ins: Toss in cooked brown rice or another whole grain to make the soup more filling. For choosy eaters, you can try blending up a veggie and sneaking it in.
Serve with: Crackers, a buttered roll, a cheese stick, fruit.