As summer comes to a close, families are experiencing both excitement and anticipation as the school year is on the horizon. This blog is all about helping families feel empowered around meal prep and creating healthy school lunches that your kids will love and their friends will want. This actually happened to my kids. So much so that as my son was graduating from high school, he asked me to have a cooking class so that his friends and classmates could do meal prep in college! It was standing room only!
I use the term “convertible meals” to describe my approach to feeding a family. The trick is to make extra food that can be repurposed for 2-3 days into a variety of dishes. For example, cook extra brown rice and use as a side dish on day 1, as a hot porridge on day 2 and in a cold salad on day 3. Get the idea?
I created what I call a “7-day Wildly Easy Meal Prep Guide” which you can access here. I put together 7 days of Wildatarian®-friendly meals your whole family will love. Use it to begin a cooking regimen at home. Incorporate other meals you love and customize menus that your family already enjoys. My goal is for you to feel great about serving healthy food without spending a lot of time in the kitchen. For more recipes, pick up a copy of my #1 Amazon Bestseller book “The Wildatarian Diet: Living as Nature Intended.” Try one of the 40 delicious recipes for main meals, snacks, desserts and drinks. Many of them come with their own “convertibles.”
Cooking in this way will allow you to consolidate meal prep time to 2 blocks every week; for me this is usually Sunday and Wednesday. This means you don’t have to think about time-intensive cooking for the other 5 days a week. So liberating! The Sunday meal prep should involve your kids – they are more likely to consume what you send if they played a part in preparing it.
Healthy School Lunches
Unless your child goes to a school with healthy food options, you may want to pack a daily lunch. Food gives kids the nutrition they need to fuel their brains and bodies during the school day. This means they are better equipped to learn. Not feeding the body correctly can cause blood sugar imbalances which affects learning. Food dyes and artificial colors have been known to affect behavior and can affect a child’s self esteem. A healthy breakfast sets the day off on the right foot. A healthy lunch is key in keeping the rest of the day on track and is integral to the overall experience of school!
I encourage clients who are parents to think outside the box. We can do so much better than a sandwich and a bag of chips! Enjoy the ideas below for an “out of the box” lunch box! Combine several of the items below into a stainless steel reusable lunchbox. Replace plastic sandwich bags with reusable silicone bags, which are better for your child and for the environment. With older children, let them curate their own lunch box from whatever is available at home. Teaching independence in general is one of our responsibilities as a parent. And healthy lunch habits started early in life will carry forward into their future. It did with my kids!
• Veggies sticks with hummus or guacamole; choose from carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, bell peppers and any other vegetable your child likes
• Wraps filled with anything – Wildatarian animal products, hummus, avocado, veggies, nut or seed butters with jelly, cream cheese and lox; use brown rice, cassava or Sami’s wraps instead of bread, or lettuce wraps work well too (butter lettuce is the best for this)
• Bagel sandwich on Sami’s bagel with organic cream cheese and wild lox
• Baby meatballs made from bison, elk or venison
• Sunbutter and jelly sandwiches on Sami’s breads
• Tanka bars sliced into strips
• Duck bacon – alone or in a BLT
• Egg muffin cups – load up with favorite veggies when baking
• Mozzarella balls with cherry tomatoes
• Prepackaged veggie sushi – brown rice or quinoa is better than white rice
• Mini pancakes made with buckwheat, chickpea or coconut flour, topped with cream cheese and honey
• Nuts or seeds – avoid peanuts and try to buy raw
• Roasted seaweed snacks – make sure they are not fried in canola oil
• Sweet potato fries
• Healthy chips: plantain, cassava, yucca, root vegetable, sweet potato and blue corn
• Sami’s chips – savory or sweet (purchase at your local organic market like MOMs or online)
• Roasted chickpea snacks – a variety of flavors is available
• Crackers and Manchego cheese cubes – we love Simple Mills and Siete as great cracker options, and Trader Joe’s rice crackers are also delicious
• Mozzarella sticks
• Sliced fruit with SunButter (this is our favorite brand) or almond butter
• Preservative-free dried apple rings, raisins, apricots, mango or figs
• Pitted dates
• Grain-free banana bread
• KNOW Better or other almond flour mini muffins
• Fresh fruit bites – grapes, melons, peaches, berries and anything else that will hold up for 4 hours
• Cassava wrap filled with jelly
For both your home meals and school lunches, it pays to be cognizant of food quality. Avoid GMOs and processed foods. Replace peanut butter with sunflower or almond butter. Choose organic where possible, especially for the produce on EWG’s Dirty Dozen list. Buy wild, pasture-raised and grass-finished animal proteins. Make sure you minimize exposure to harmful chemicals, hormones and antibiotics whenever its practical. Little bodies should not be burdened with all these “extras,” if they can be avoided. With a little planning, this can be the year you get into the ease and flow of healthy meal preparation for home and school.
Photo from here, with thanks.