Lunchbox Tips for the Cooler Months
Posted by Mandy Sacher on July 14, 2015
Posted by Mandy Sacher on July 14, 2015
With the sudden drop in temperature and kids heading back to school this week, we thought it was a great time to share our favorite winter warmer lunchbox solutions to keep your little ones nourished and energized.
Now is definitely a great time to invest in a good quality, kid-sized thermos to store some tummy-warming lunches for the school day. Look for any quality thermos with a ‘warming guarantee’ of a minimum of five hours is a good option.
Soups are the perfect lunchtime choice for kids to take to their child care center or school during winter, and there are numerous nutrient-dense options you can prepare for your family which will help sustain minds and bodies through the coldest of winter days. Start with the best possible soup stock you can afford – a bone broth is the perfect base for any soup, or use a low-sodium and MSG-free vegetable stock. Once you have your base ready, add in as many vegetables as you can. For many children, it’s best to puree the veggies first so they’re not visible to tiny, fussy eaters’ eyes.
It’s always best to work with your child’s favorite foods – if they love chicken, make a chicken soup loaded with vegetables. If your children can’t get enough of pumpkin soup – enhance the nutrient content of this tasty option by adding carrot, sweet potato and other mild-flavored vegetables such as zucchini and green beans which can be hidden easily amongst the orange-colored root veggies. Pumpkin and butternut squash also team beautifully with coconut milk. To tempt fussy eaters to eat soup, you may want to provide whole grain noodles or sourdough croutons which they can add to the soup themselves at school. Our favorite soup recipes include Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup and Lentil and Vegetable Soup.
Wholemeal Pasta is another winter warmer lunchbox favorite. Use a good quality whole grain pasta, like soba buckwheat noodles, spelt spirals or rice, quinoa and amaranth penne. Packing sauces full of vegetables is an excellent way to further boost your children’s vitamin intake. Why not try our delicious homemade Vegetable Packed Pasta Sauce? And, for a protein-filled lunch option, mix your vegetable sauce with Wholesome Child’s Beef and Veggie Meatballs or Spaghetti Bolognaise, which you can make in a larger batch and then freeze for easy mid-week lunchboxes. These are also great dinner recipes enjoyed by the whole family.
Casseroles are a great way to maximize leftovers, save money and transform extra dinner portions into a warming thermos lunchbox meal. Casseroles are also an excellent way of ensuring your little ones have a power-packed lunch with a wide variety of nutrients. There are also crowd-pleasing vegetarian options, such as a supercharged macaroni and cheese loaded with veggies, or our favorite taste bud-friendly Orange Chicken and Thyme Casserole.
Mini muffins and quiches are nutritious and satiating options for kids’ lunchboxes. Their shape and size make them instantly appealing to children, which is a savior for busy parents, as you can bake them in batches, freeze them and use them over a month (or more) for an easy grab-and-go lunchbox solution. Our Salmon Mini Quiches are a perfect choice for midday meals.
Breakfast for lunch, we’re not kidding! Breakfast oatmeal is often a favorite for my children, so for a change, why not give them a nutrient-packed hot oatmeal for lunch? Mix together a variety of grains, for example, brown rice flakes and quinoa flakes, together with sunflower seeds, goji berries, chia seeds, then top with banana or our delicious Apricot and Cinnamon Compote.
Toasted whole grain sandwiches can be a healthy option if you use veggie spreads and ensure some protein is included in your filling to keep their tummies full and little brains active for a demanding afternoon of math, sports or painting! Add a thin spread of hummus or sweet potato puree to increase nutrient density. Choose your favorite preservative-free whole grain bread, add a layer of healthy fat (coconut oil, ghee, butter, olive oil) and include low-sodium cheese, tomatoes and mushrooms. If your child is not a fan of vegetables, try mixing pureed sweet potato, parsnip or cauliflower to the cheese before melting. Wrap and place in an insulated lunchbox to keep warm until lunchtime. Check out this article for the perfect formula for healthy sandwiches.
Veggie filled fried quinoa or rice is the perfect winter warmer and a great tummy filler. For more protein add egg, meat, lentils or fish according to your child’s preference, and plenty of diced veggies such as carrots, peas, cauliflower, broccoli and tomato. If your child does not like mixed textures, then start off by reducing the number of ingredients. If you struggle with your little one picking out the protein, cook the rice in bone broth to boost its nutritional value and add just one or two favorite veggies, plus a healthy fat to keep them full for the whole afternoon.