Lunch At Home With Kids: Easy, Budget-Friendly, Healthy Lunch Ideasby Elizabeth MacDonald
If you are one of the thousands of families in the position of virtually educating your kids while also balancing the rest of your life, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. Whether the school year has already started and tears have already hit the floor, or your anxiety is on high as you count down the final days of summer vacation and await the hours of screen time ahead, lunch becomes an afterthought.
Gone are the days where lunch can be eaten out with friends or packed-up cute in the sweet little lunch box for school. When you are at home all day, the refrigerator and pantry seem to call your name, and it’s generally not the celery beckoning you. The same thing happens with your kids - even your toddlers. Your lunch-box packings may not fly when there are so many treats within grabbing distance.
Lunch doesn’t need to become a junk food binge, nor should it. This school year is already going to cause too much sitting; as parents, you need to take something into your control. This is where your food choices come into play. It’s time to limit the junk and start improving health (and boosting immune systems!) by enforcing healthy food options. Take back lunchtime.
Eating well may cost more than eating processed, boxed items or in comparing to paid-for school lunches, but if you can balance your budget by not eating out, spending on fast food, and cutting those unhealthy items from your pantry, you’ll be surprised that it isn’t a drastic increase.
You can make these lunches as simple or complex as you’d like; however, implementing a ‘No Snacks Until This Is Gone” rule is a great way to keep everyone’s hands out of the pantry!
Easy, Budget-Friendly, Healthy Lunch Ideas
The Lunch Board
Board meals are all the rage right now, and for good reason. They are simply a buffet on a serving board. Yours can look as fancy as you’d like, but the premise is all the same: put a bunch of small portions of healthy items together to pick through.
Ideas to keep your boards fresh and new:
- English peas
- Carrot slices, shreds, or sticks
- Celery sticks
- Avocado slices
- Sliced peppers
- Sweet potato fries
- Grilled chicken strips (find them in the deli meat section of the grocery store)
- Lettuce with ham rolled up
- Turkey slices
- Nuts, seeds, dried fruit
- Melon balls
- Apple slices
- Pear slices
- Cut banana
- Pita bread
- Whole milk cheeses
Dips: Hummus, tzatziki, peanut butter, homemade dressings, greek yogurt
The Brunch Option
Freezer waffles make a great sandwich! Slather on some peanut butter and set a bowl of maple syrup on the side for dipping. The same goes for pancakes. You can also take breakfast sausage or bacon and add some hash browns with a side of fruit. These are great lunch options if you decide to make a larger-than-normal breakfast and portion some out for the week.
Freeze muffins, egg bites, and breakfast sandwiches to pull out for last-minute lunches.
The Roll-Up with Sides
You can find wraps made of tomatoes, spinach, or even chia seeds now. Grab a few packs to find your favorites. Wrap up a protein, veggies, and cut to look like sushi rolls (or just in half, who needs to be fancy?) - add some fresh fruit and call it a win.
The Smoothie Option
Check out these great smoothie ideas to pack in the goods!
The Kitchen Sink Option:
Just as it sounds, you dump any leftover possible on a plate and call it a day. This option is normally accompanied by an earlier than 5:00 pm glass of wine. (Only kidding)