The Ultimate Guide to Back to School Lunches!
With school back in session many of us have back to school preparations on the brain! Along with new clothes and school supplies we have to start thinking about good nutrition to get our kiddos on track for a successful year. In fact, nutrient deficiency is a prime reason for Attention Deficit, Hyperactivity, and poor testing scores! Learn how to plan balanced lunches that pack a powerful nutrition punch and avoid empty carbohydrates, artificial colorants, and refined sugars.
A lot of products containing artificial colorants/dyes, added refined sugar, and GMOs can be seen targeted towards children and unfortunately, these are the ingredients that lead to increased hyperactivity, brain fog, fatigue, and increased food sensitivity.
I recommend working fun into your child’s lunch by having 2-3 colors each day in their lunch bag. Also, you need to empower the child to be a “Taste Adventurer” give them specific options and ranges, such as “Which fruit would you like? Kiwi or Grapes?” Give them ranges and parameters but let them demonstrate autonomy. If they are in charge, they will be more likely to eat and enjoy the lunch!
ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS OF A BALANCED LUNCH
To the contrary of most school lunches and snacks geared at kiddos, carbs are NOT an essential component of a balanced lunch! That said, even if you don’t pack them, carbs will always find your child…so it is important to focus on selecting quality proteins and fats to fuel them! Focus on protein, fat and non-starchy veggies FIRST when packing a lunch or presenting a meal to your child! As an example, when Stella sits down for her lunch or dinner I will put salmon, avocado and broccoli roasted in coconut oil on her high chair as a first course and allow her to choose from these nourishing foods. Then, when she starts to slow down, I will sprinkle maybe 1/2 cup of berries in to excite her palate and add variety to keep her engaged in eating!
Note: Avoid single-use plastics (and plastic tupperware) as much as possible! Use stainless steel or glass (depending on how much you trust your kid haha!) instead for main items and Stashers bags for dry goods. Many brands do make single-use snack-sized items so if that is a better choice for your household or is going to get your kids more excited about their lunch, that’s fine too!
Here are a couple of items that are household staples for car rides, travel and school:
Use the following as a matrix and choose 1-2 items from each list. Here are a couple of visual examples of how this can play out in your child’s lunch to provide a variety of choices, textures and colors and don’t forget to ask for feedback! Ask your child what they liked and didn’t like and WHY so that you can work together in creating a rotation that both parties will be happy with!
Above: Turkey Roll-Ups with bell pepper slices, snap peas and bell peppers, Simple Mills Crackers, raw aged cheddar & blueberries
Above: Siete Tortilla quesadilla with chicken and raw aged cheddar, sliced cucumbers, raspberries, guacamole & Epic Pork Rinds
CHOOSE YOUR NON-STARCHY VEGETABLES
Offer a variety of options and allow your child to choose what goes in the lunchbox the next day–do you want cucumbers or bell peppers with your lunch? Use leftover roasted broccoli or cauliflower, zucchini sticks or celery as options to keep things interesting and deliver a variety of antioxidants and phytonutrients!
Pair these with a dip such as hummus, guacamole or a clean ranch dressing to add flavor and healthy fats! Tessemae’s makes single use dressing packets that are great for lunch boxes.
Fermented Pickled Veggies (Bubbies, Barrell Creek or Farmhouse Cultures)
FOCUS ON CLEAN PROTEIN
Eggs are a great option for a quick grab of protein to support brain function! Hard boiled eggs are rich in choline and omega-3s that support brain function. These are great with a dollop of mustard or cut up in an egg salad. Turkey slices (naked in house roasted with no binders or fillers) have protein to boost lean mass and brain power while providing tryptophan which can reduce testing anxiety. Chomps grassfed beef sticks are a portable clean protein option that I always have on hand for Stella in the diaper bag and honestly nothing mellows a child out like…Pederson’s individually wrapped bacon!
Naked In House Roasted Turkey
Pulled Rotisserie Chicken
Leftover Burger Patty
Quesadilla made with Siete Tortilla, cheese and rotisserie chicken or protein of choice
PACK WHOLE FATS
Pack whole fats! Cheese cubes provide calcium, vitamin K, probiotics, and protein while providing a salty cheesy flavor! Look for raw aged for probiotics and vitamin K2, choose sources free of rGBH growth hormone. Also consider avocado and olives for additional healthy fat options! These individual olive packs are great for lunches!
Nuts for balanced energy! Nut butters, nuts/seeds, homemade trail mix, and even seed butters for those schools that have an allergy ban. These products are a great way to provide energy for your child without the crash and burn. Healthy fats are very grounding and provide a balance without too much excitatory response. I love F Bomb Nut Butter Packs for a high fat and calorie dense snack for on the go kiddos (and mamas!) Use the coupon code, AliMillerRD, which gives 20% off your first order .
Use healthy fats as a low carb salty crunchy option too! Why do goldfish that are high in carbs and contain refined flours and processed ingredients when you can instead opt for a parmesan crisp that have no carbs, but instead give your kiddo protein and fat to ground and satiate them! We love Whisps Parmesan Crisps in individual packs for lunches or FBomb Keto Crunch! Pork rinds, or as Stella calls them “crunchies” are a great option for little ones who are teething as well as older kiddos to support connective tissue health as well as brain function. They are packed with gelatin and glycine, two compounds so often lacking in our modern diet!
Culina Coconut Yogurt
Guacamole (cover with lime juice to prevent browning or can do individual packs)
Ready to get yourself back on track now that the kiddos are back in school? Check out our Virtual Food As Medicine Ketosis Class to reduce cravings and reset your metabolism!
CHOOSE HEALTHY CARBS….IF THERE’S ROOM!
With all the other goodness above your child might forget about carbs altogether. Ensure carbs are always paired with protein and/or healthy fats and focus on real whole fruit to tame sugar cravings vs. fruit snacks which may have added sugar! Incorporate low glycemic berries that also pack and antioxidant punch or kiwi which is loaded with vitamin C and allow your child to choose their 1 fruit option from a variety of choices! Hummus can be a great nourishing carb option to get picky eaters to eat their veggies. If needing a replacement for chips or crackers to slowly wean down the carb content of your child’s lunch, consider Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato Chips made with coconut oil or Simple Mills Grain Free Crackers as nourishing options contain protein, minerals and healthy fats and does not drive leaky gut or food sensitivity like gluten-containing counterparts!
Apple Slices (coat with lemon juice to prevent browning)
Kiwi (cut in half and eat with a spoon or do Sungold Kiwis which can be eaten with the skin!)
Leftover Roasted Sweet Potato
Individual Hummus Cups
Not sure what an ingredient is or which brand to choose? Check out the Ali Miller RD Amazon Store for pantry staples, favorite snacks and more!
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