Kids are going back to schools and kindergartens. Wondering what to pack your kid for lunch? I’ve always provided my 5-year-old’s lunch and snack for kindergarten and I make it super-easy. You can do it too!
My kid’s kindergarten is very accommodating, i.e. the food can be stored in fridge and the teachers heat it up on a stovetop or in oven. Since this was his routine from the beginning, he has had no problems with having different food than other kids. On the contrary, they often want to taste whatever he’s having as his food is always colourful. His afternoon snacks are hits too. In spring, he had spruce tips with him and several kids had a taste. Other times, they try the different nuts (brazil nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts) he has with his carrots and salad leaves.
If there’s no possibility to heat up lunch, warm it up in the morning and use insulated containers to pack the food for the day. Most children (mine included) are OK eating food at room temperature. If you take their meal from the fridge in the morning, it’ll be fine to eat by lunchtime (this applies only to plant-based meals and cooler climates).
I recommend buying a smaller and a bigger 2-compartment BPA-free food container + a regular one-compartment one. The sizes depend on how much your kid eats.
I usually pack him dinner or lunch (as I work from home I cook my lunch) leftovers. When I cook dinner I already bear in mind the extra quantities to have enough leftovers. While filling the dinner plates I prepare his lunch container at the same time and put it in fridge.
My kid is super-happy with:
- Veggie-bean/lentils stews over rice, quinoa or whole-grain pasta
- Lasagne with brown lentil and tomato sauce
- Veggie-lentil risotto
- Salad mix of corn, olives, sundried tomatoes, capers, grated carrots or turnips, chickpeas, rice or quinoa, kale or Romain lettuce and a tahini sauce with nutritional yeast
- Veggie-lentil oven casserole
Sometimes it happens that I have no leftovers, in which case I just prepare him a super-easy lunch the evening before and store it in fridge in a container. Usually I make red lentil stew prepared with onion flakes, garlic powder, turmeric, cumin seeds, nutritional yeast, kale or broccoli or chard and quinoa. I add boiled beet or sauerkraut as side. It takes 15 minutes to prepare.
The snacks are even an easier task. I make sure he has:
- some grains – either a muffin or some cookies/bars that I have prepared myself,
- nuts – usually a Brazil nut and a walnut. He is always very specific about the number of nuts, i.e. there have to be two 🙂
- some veggies – carrots, turnip, cucumber, red bell pepper
- or fruits – an organic apple or pear so that he does not need to peel it.
Prepare big batches and freeze
- Bean/lentil/veggie patties – it is easy to heat them up in the oven in the morning and put between whole grain sandwiches. Add some tahini, tomato and cucumber slices and you have a super-yummy and healthy meal. See recipes for Beet-Chickpea Patties, Quinoa Patties, Zucchini Patties.
- Cookies and muffins – bake, cool down and freeze immediately. They’ll be like fresh when they come out of the oven after heating and make a wonderful dessert or afternoon snack. See healthy recipes: Cherry-Poppy Seed Muffins, Plum-Cardamom Muffins, Banana-Mango-Chocolate Muffins, Goji-Oat Cookies.
- Candy balls or bars – candies made of dried fruits, nuts and a bit of cacao or carob powder. See Date-Walnut-Carob Candy recipe.
Doesn’t seem like a rocket science any more, does it?
Nele Liivlaid: founder of Nutriplanet.org She has been into healthy eating for many years, but developed a more profound interest in nutrition and related diseases when she started reading The China Study and other special books on nutrition. After being in real estate and hospitality business for more than 10 years she decided to totally change her path to spread the word about healthy and sustainable nutrition and lifestyle.