Healthy school lunches that are yummy and protein-packed so they will satisfy hungry teenagers all day long.
Thank you to Stonyfield for sponsoring this post!
Not. Enough. Food. That’s the message I was getting from my tween/teenage boys about the lunches I was packing for them. Somehow my little dudes have become big dudes, in grownup sized bodies that are still growing, if that’s even possible.
Gone are the days when I can create a lunch of a little bit of this and little bit of that. They need real food, not rabbit food! Add in sports activities after school and they need a mega ton of food in those lunch bags!
So….as a new school year begins, a few changes are in order around here.
- The kids will be much more involved in packing their own lunch. I’ll still be there to oversee things and maybe help chop some apples, but I want them to own it.
- More protein-packed snacks to help fill up those bellies.
RELATED: Coolest Reusable Snack Bags for Back-to-School
Healthy School Lunches
Now if your kids are like mine, they want completely different things in their lunches, so flexibility is key! Here is our starting point. Make it work for your own kids by starting with the foods they love best, then testing out some new healthy options and see what sticks.
A healthy base
We start with either a hearty sandwich or leftovers. What I love about leftovers is that they almost always include a healthy dose of vegetables. My guys aren’t huge sandwich fans, so I try to mix it up with interesting bread alternatives like a tortilla, a pretzel bun or a wheat roll. In a pinch we use packaged soup. (I’m always on the hunt for healthy soups my boys actually like that are preferably not in a BPA-laden can – so if you have any suggestions let me know!)
I also play lunch box cop and make sure they pack some type of fruit or vegetable in their lunch every day!
High protein snacks will help fill them up, provide brain power and fuel them through they day and into after-school activities. Here are a few of our favorites:
- hard-boiled eggs
- Justin’s nut butter packets with banana, apple slices or pretzels
- nuts or trail mix
- Stonyfield Organic YoKids Squeezers (freeze them ahead and they will still be cool by lunchtime)
- homemade power bites or granola bars with low sugar and a decent amount of protein (like KIND bars or Cliff Z-bars)
- hummus with vegetables
- grass-fed jerky or beef sticks
- cheese curds or cubes
We don’t usually do sweets in lunches but Justin’s chocolate hazelnut & almond butter is a nice treat!
A functional lunch bag
You’re gonna need a pretty big lunch bag to hold enough food to satisfy a hungry teenager. You’ll also need to keep the perishable foods like yogurt, eggs or cheese cool, especially if anything is being held for an after-school snack. The solution? A freezeable PackIt lunch bag that will keep food or drinks cool for up to 10 hours, without added ice packs. Genius idea!
How has lunch packing changed as your kids have grown older?
Hey – I’ve got plenty more healthy lunch ideas, reusable lunch containers and lunch gear ideas where these came from!
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