The back-to-school season is once again upon us! As the summer fades away and the kids settle into the new school year, it’s important to help them develop healthy eating habits.
School lunches often lack crucial nutritional value and variety, leaving students tired and agitated during long days. Consuming sugary and fattening foods after waking up early and before heading to sleep late does not make a recipe for success. What to do? Try making healthy and delicious lunches at home! Doing so will allow you to choose the foods your kids enjoy, as well as have fun in the kitchen making healthy meals.
Pretzel Kids understands that the back-to-school season can be stressful. So, we’ve crafted three healthy lunch options, including easy-to-make and affordable sandwich ideas. Hopefully, these meals will leave your kids feeling ready to seize the day and excel at school and in other school year activities.
To learn more, check out the school lunch options below and choose your own favorites. We hope you and your kids have fun taste testing them all!
“Real” PB&J. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are indeed school lunch staples. At the same time, they aren’t necessarily the healthiest options. Pretzel Kids recognizes that PB&J sandwiches are easy to make and even easier to eat, so we’ve crafted a “real” PB&J option.
For starters, decide what type of peanut butter to buy as you have many choices. Popular brands generally include lots of sugar, making peanut butter more than just, well, a jar of peanuts. And, many types of jelly can be super sugary as well. Welch’s Concord Grape Jelly, for example, includes 13 grams of sugar per one tablespoon, as well as 13 grams of carbs. Considering a standard sandwich requires three to four tablespoons of jelly, those sugars and carbs add up fast.
As an alternative to these sugary options, consider purchasing all-natural peanut butter and reduced-sugar jelly. Even Smucker’s now offers both regular and all-natural options. Almost all grocery stores carry Smucker’s organic peanut butter, which contains simply peanuts and a hint of salt (less than 1%). There is also only one gram of naturally-produced sugar per serving, as well as eight grams of protein. Smucker’s also makes reduced-sugar grape jellies, as do many other popular brands.
To finish off your sandwich ingredients, try substituting white bread with a whole grain or wheat bread product. Voila: Your Pretzel Kids “real” PB&J is ready to be eaten!
Pro tip: Pair your PB&J sandwich with homemade granola or your favorite piece of fruit for a complete meal!
Chicken Salad Sandwiches Rather than stocking up on pre-made, store brand chicken salad, consider crafting your own delicious version at home. Chicken salads packaged at local grocery stores often contain high amounts of high-calorie mayonnaise and sodium. We think you can do better than that.
For starters, pick up the following ingredients at your local supermarket: A rotisserie chicken, celery, sliced almonds, craisins or raisins, grapes, and reduced-fat/light mayonnaise. Of course, you can substitute these ingredients with other add-ins or leave some ingredients out.
With homemade chicken salad, you can choose how much mayonnaise to add and even taste-test the sandwich filler with your kids as you go along.
The preparation is quite simple:
- Dice or pull apart pieces of the rotisserie chicken and place those pieces in a large bowl
- Mix your array of ingredients with the chicken
- Add about a half cup of mayonnaise. You can choose to add a little less or more, depending on your preference
- Fully mix
- Place the chicken salad in the fridge for about an hour, or until it is cooled. Eat it alone or with whole wheat bread. You can also try it on top of a salad.
Pro tip: For a complete school lunch, be sure to pair your chicken salad with fruit kebabs.
Summer Salad. Kick off the new school year with a fresh start, or a summer salad! Summer salads will keep your kids feeling the warmth of the sun, as well as give them energy to meet their potential throughout the day. Mixed fruits are perfect for this dish, as well as various nuts and dressings.
To make this type of salad, start with your favorite kind of lettuce - which may include butter lettuce, mixed greens or romaine. Place the lettuce in a large bowl. Next, add diced pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, and craisins to the lettuce ensemble and include your choice of nuts. To maintain the vibe of a fun summer, consider using pecans, walnuts, or even both!
Once the lettuce and add-ins are combined, toss it all together with your favorite salad dressing - organic options can always be found at your local grocery store.
Pro tip: Fruity dressings pair perfectly with the lettuce, nuts, and diced fruit!
Help Your Kids Stay Healthy - Even in the Cafeteria
Helping your kids develop healthy eating habits during the school year can be a big challenge. Indeed, finding time to stay sane with such hectic schedules is no easy task. Here at Pretzel Kids, we hope this healthy school lunch list will give you ideas for easy-to-make meals that your kids will love to eat.
We wish you all a healthy and stress-free school year!
Sarah Scriber is a content writer and social media intern at Pretzel Kids