Day 183- Back to School Lunch Ideas

Summer is coming to an end and that means schools are back in session. Whether it is you or your children that are heading back to school, packing a healthy lunch is an important part of the day. You want a lunch that can fuel your body and mind, and that energizes you instead of weights you down or causes your blood sugar to crash.

You also have to think about saving money; going out to eat everyday can definitely dent your wallet. On top of the financial burden eating out on a regular basis can cause, you also don’t know exactly where your food came from or what exactly is in it. This can be dangerous for people on special diets since their server may not know every ingredient in each dish.
For children the options are even worse. School lunches are highly processed, full of carbohydrates, sugar, vegetable oils and contain little protein or healthy fats. And while you are not there to monitor every choice your child makes, they are being offered things such as chocolate milk, pizza, microwaved chicken fingers, french fries, etc. If you ever watched Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution you would realize that most children given the option of pizza verse a salad, are most likely going to opt towards the pizza. The solution is to teach children the importance of “real” food verse processed “crap.” It is also important to let children have some kind of say in the foods that are being put in their lunch so that they aren’t feeling forced to eat what is provided for them.

This goes for adults as well. Eating healthy doesn’t have to something that you dread. The more options for lunch that you have, and the more you cater to what kind of healthy foods that you like the more likely you will be to eat the lunch that you prepared rather than pulling up to the drive-through instead.

For individuals and families that are adopting a certain diet, such as gluten, soy, dairy or grain free there are plenty of options out there for you. Lunches don’t always have to consist of sandwiches, chips, and cookies. And if that is the lunch that you prefer there are still healthier options of such out there for you. Below are some of my healthier lunch suggestions; feel free to adjust them to fit your taste.
Healthy Lunch Options:
  • Hummus or guacamole dip with vegetables
  • Aged cheese with nitrate free meat (also dairy-free cheeses available)
  • Lettuce wraps with turkey, mustard or hummus
  • Leftovers such as meatloaf, homemade soups, grilled chicken
  • Soaked and roasted nuts
  • Gluten-free granola with plain whole milk or goat milk yogurt
  • Jerky- preferably home-made
  • Apples with almond butter
  • Taco salad
  • Meat and vegetable stir fry on top of quinoa
  • Grain-free bread with almond butter and bananas
  • Spaghetti squash with gluten-free meatballs, and tomato sauce
  • Hard-boiled eggs
I found a few great resources for great lunch time ideas, tips, and recipes:
Bottom line, have fun and get creative! Make sure you lunch contains enough protein to keep you energized without causing you to experience that common “afternoon crash.” Avoid foods that you have found to weight you down, or cause you to become sleepy. Fruit is a great choice but eat along with protein sources, and avoid fruit juices. Don’t get stuck in a rut, switch up your meal choices so that you don’t get bored and end up making poor choices.
Pura Vida!
Alica Ryan, NTP

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