Three Recipes Your Kids Will Love for the New School Year

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School is in session, which means we’ve got lunches to pack! As a mom of two kids, I know how difficult it can be to get your kiddos to actually eat the lunches you make. In fact, it can be an everyday battle. Moms have told me that they’re sick of making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and they run out of ideas that are both healthy and appealing to their kids.

To make packing lunches easier, I have a few healthy and creative ideas that I know your kids will love.

Build Your Own Taco Bowl

This is one of my favorite lunches to pack because it hardly requires any work on my part! If you cook the turkey the night before or use leftovers, it makes it even quicker to pack. What’s great about this lunch is that your kids can have fun putting it together themselves and add whatever toppings they want.

Ingredients:

  • Ground turkey, cooked seasoned, mixed with black beans
  • ¼ cup grated cheddar cheese
  • ¼ romaine lettuce, chopped
  • ¼ cup guacamole or chopped avocado
  • ¼ cup olives
  • Tortilla scoops

Directions:

  • Stack the tortilla scoops in one compartment of the container. Put the ground turkey and black beans in another compartment, and the cheddar cheese, lettuce, olives and guacamole each in its own individual compartment. 
  • Kids can then build their own taco bowls and add as much, or as little, toppings as they want. Let them pick the toppings they like best. You can get as creative as you want with this – try adding in shredded cabbage for a pretty color.


Banana Sushi

My kids like having something sweet in their lunch, so this banana sushi is the perfect way to satisfy your kids’ sweet tooth without giving them a crash from processed sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole banana
  • Almond butter or other alternative butter, like sun butter or cashew butter
  • Any toppings of your choice (I like to use granola, shredded coconut or dairy-free chocolate chips)

Directions:

  • Cut the banana into small 2-inch sections and with a butter knife, cover the outside in almond butter or another healthy butter alternative of your choice.
  • Place your toppings in a plate or bowl. Once you cover the banana sections with almond butter, roll in whatever topping you choose. Enjoy!

Bunny-Shaped Turkey and Cheddar Sandwich, served with Baby Carrots and Broccoli Tots

You don’t have to say goodbye to making sandwiches forever – all you have to do is find new ways to present them. Kids love fun shapes, and they are more likely to eat a sandwich if it’s in a shape of their favorite animal or superhero. Cookie cutters will be your new best friend.

Ingredients:

  • Two slices of gluten-free bread
  • Organic turkey
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Organic baby carrots
  • Condiments of your choice

Broccoli Tots:

  • 2 cups raw broccoli florets
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 1 onion, minced
  • ½ cup gluten-free Rice Chex, broken up into small pieces
  •  ⅔ cup shredded cheddar cheese (use the brand Daiya to make this dairy free)
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400ºF, and line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
  • Steam your broccoli florets for 2 minutes, and chop well into small pieces.
  • In a large bowl, combine the chopped broccoli with the rest of your ingredients. Mix until totally combined.
  • Scoop a large spoonful of the mixture in your hands, and shape it so it resembles a tater tot. Place on your baking sheet, and repeat until all mixture has been used.
  • Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden. Serve with baby carrots and bunny-shaped sandwich. Enjoy!

I hope your kids love these lunches as much as mine have! Below are some tips to keep in mind for better lunch packing:

  1. Include a Lot of Color: The more colors you add to their lunch, the more visually appealing the food will be, since we all eat with our eyes first.
  2. Incorporate Fun Shapes: Kids love fun shapes and textures, so make sure to use cookie cutters and use some of your artistic skills to make star-shaped strawberries or heart-shaped cheese bites. You could even get alphabet cookie cutters and make their name!
  3. Store it in an Easy, Accessible Way: Bento boxes are seriously one of the best containers to use to pack lunches. These boxes are so easy to clean, and they are compartmentalized so you can keep food separated and stored neatly. Often, it is all about the way you present the food that makes it enticing to eat. I have also seen parents use those rubber “cupcake holders” to put crackers and things in.
  4. Involve Your Kids in the Process: I’ve found that the trick to getting my kids to eat their lunch, is to involve them in the process. I ask them what they like, what kind of colors they want and what they’re in the mood to eat. You could even have them help you make their lunch! The more involved they are, the more excited they will be to eat what they have helped make.
  5. Create a Theme: While this might require some creativity, planning a theme for your kids’ lunch can be a fun way to get them to eat everything you packed. For example, since bunnies eat carrots, I thought it’d be fun to create a bunny-themed lunch with the bunny-shaped sandwich and carrot sticks. Have fun with it!