Being a mom already makes me feel crazy enough without cutting food into animal shapes or listening to whining about how bored they are of having a sandwich. My criteria for lunches are that they need to be:
1. Easy. On a school morning, my brain is barely functioning enough to avoid dumping coffee into someone's cereal.
2. A variety of nutritious food, as much as possible. We're all about that moderation life.
3. Fast. Because there is only so much you can do while chasing around a baby who has somehow managed to get naked already.
Having a variety of nutritious options on hand for school snacks tends to balance out whatever the main meal is and that makes me feel like I tried really hard. I like our school snacks to be quick to grab and because I am so wild and adventurous, they are pretty much the same assortment every week: fruits (think mandarin oranges, bananas, grapes, strawberries, etc.) veggies (snap peas, cherry tomatoes, mini peppers, mini cucumbers, etc.), cheese strings, apple sauce, crackers, etc. They get to choose what they bring for snacks because I once accidentally skim-read a parenting blog and it said that kids like choices. It's also because I don't have enough craps left to give to micromanage.
Here are 10 lunch ideas that we love in our house:
1. Soup. If you haven't bought one of those kid thermoses yet, do it! They are a game-changer. You can warm up soup from the night before (you may notice a leftovers theme in this post because laziness.. I mean, food waste and the environment) and send it along. Your kid will get to eat it piping hot, if they actually remember to bring a spoon (don't get your hopes up.)
2 & 3. Chicken Drumsticks. We love to make a big batch of these to send as our protein for the week! They are tasty cold but you may even be able to fit them in a thermos if you give them a good shove.
Cold Salads. The salad pictured is a Mexican bean salad but the combinations are endless. Make a big batch of quinoa / bean / pasta / potato salad and dole it out during the week. Fibre for all the people!
4. Rice Bowls. This variation involved chickpeas but you can basically stick anything on rice, add a sauce and you're good to go! Get your veggies by adding them to your bowl or leaving them on the side as a snack. Again, the thermos is key for this one. So is reminding your kids to take a fork.
5. Stir-fry Wraps. I made this one accidentally one day when I was way too optimistic about how far our meal-plan was going to take us and ended up desperately needing groceries. What started out as leftover stir-fry, some speedy quick Sriracha mayo that I whipped up, and a couple of wraps ended up as "the best thing" my kids ever ate. #win
6. Yogurt Bowls. Grab some fruit, greek yogurt, and whatever topping you have on hand (this was hemp hearts but you could use granola, seeds, whatever pretentious hippy stuff you've got) and you've got a Pinterest-y looking lunch that makes you look like a mom who has their shit together.
7. Noodle Stir-fry. You could do this cold or warm, depending on your preference and recipe. Who doesn't love noodles for lunch?! And if you don't, invite me over. More for me.
8. Oatmeal and Berries. Again, get the thermos and the door of lunch possibilities will open before your eyes. You can add protein to this with protein powder or egg whites (or have your protein on the side as a snack.) Choose whatever fruit you like, top with cinnamon, and avoid the inner frostbite that is living in Canada.
9. Protein Pancakes. It doesn't get any easier than this. I added some WOW butter (nut-free) and jam on top and called it a day. You could also use berry sauce! If you really want to level-up your Lazy Mom game, definitely make them as a sheet pan pancake too.
10. Whatever You've Still Got in the Fridge. Ok, so it does get easier than protein pancakes. Open your fridge, grab a variety of nutritious foods, stuff in a container, and send. It's basically the equivalent of the gas tank light challenge only instead of, "how long can I push it before getting gas? When I am stranded on the side of the road, who can I call that is not my husband so that he'll never know?" it's, "How long can I get away with avoiding the utter hell that is taking toddlers to the grocery store?" Good luck!
What are your favourite school lunches? Leave me a comment and let me know!