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Healthy Lunches for Back To School

I can't believe it's almost time! In just 6 short days, Dylan will go back to school and be in 3rd grade. I can't believe how fast he's growing. Before I know he'll be in high school, and not wanting my help. But until then, I'm going to soak up all the "help" I can give.

One of those ways is to make sure I send him to school with a healthy well balanced lunch. Thursday, I shared my nutrition goals for the month, and I mentioned how with Dylan going back to school, I wanted to prepare and create our own healthier snacks, especially for Dylan's lunches. With that, also comes healthier entrees as well. 

I've been doing a little pinterest and internet research for some lunch ideas, along with coming up with some of my own for Dylan to take to school. And today, I'm going to share with you a list of what I have come up with. This is not all there is out there, of course, but I will be honest, I was keeping my 7 year old in mind, when I was making this list.

PB&J on a whole wheat mini bagel Dylan is a huge fan of Peanut Butter and Jelly. If I let him, he'd have it for lunch everyday. And while I don't typically have a problem with it as lunch, a normal size sandwich just is a larger portion size than I would like, so instead I would often make him half a sandwich. Then it occured to me while shopping one day to use mini bagels, or slider buns for that matter. Dylan likes bagels better so this is perfect. And the smaller sandwich allows for more heathier side and snack options

Mini Chicken Club Sandwiches This pretty much goes right along with the mini peanut butter idea, but I would most likely use whole wheat slider buns for this. Just grill up some chicken and cut it up the night before or on Sunday when you do the rest of your meal prep, and all you have to do in the morning is put the sandwich together.

Mini pita pockets This was an idea I found on the internet, but unfortunately I can't remember where. I have always done half a pita pocket for Dylan. I had no idea they made mini pita pockets. I am now on the serious hunt for mini pitas for Dylan's lunch. You can add tuna, chicken salad, grilled chicken with veggies and a vinegarette dressing, and tons more ideas.

Healthy pizza I think this is one of my favorite ideas. It's something I have thought of, but haven't done it. It is also something I found on the internet as well. What I love the most about this recipe is that your kids can help you make this. Just make your favorite pizza dough recipe (if you have a good, preferably whole wheat one, please share. I don't have a favorite yet), and your kids help spread the sauce and add the ingredients they choose. You can even divide the piza dough up to create mini pizzas so each child can have their own pizza.

Salad (green leafy, bean, pasta) Oh, we can go into the many different kinds of salads out there and share recipe after recipe (Ok, I'm sharing one below), but basically, you can pack your kids salad for lunch. I'm sure you've pack it for your own lunch before, so you know it does fine. Any salad you can think, an know they'll eat: green leafy salads, bean salads, pasta salads, they all sound delicious. Just be sure to pack the salad dressing from any green leafy salads, so that it doesn't get soggy.

Corn, Black Bean and Mango Salad This recipe looks too good not to share. To me, I think this would be good wam or cold, but if they prefer it warm, just heat it up in the morning and pop it in a thermos. Check it out here.

Chili Even though Savannah doesn't get as cold as I would like it to get (I want snow in the winter), it doesn cool down enough for some good chili in the fall and winter. We love chili in our house. And this year, I plan on sending Dylan to school with some leftover chili. I haven't yet picked up a thermos, but it's on my list of back to school supplies for him. Putting some heated leftover chili in a thermos for lunch has to be one of the easiest lunch preps ever. I will love for those days!

Soup I will also live for soup days. It's another super easy lunch day. And just like chili, is perfect for lunch in a thermos the next day. I love soup and am constantly trying out new soup recipes on my family. Our favorite (and one I plan on making multiple times this fall and winter) is this tomato soup recipe from Jenn over at Peas and Crayons complete with the Baked Mozzarella Balls. It is hands down  my favorite tomato soup recipe and one of my all time favorite meals. My husband has put this at the top of his Top 10 meals I've made, and my kids kept asking for more, even after it was gone. It was a soup, I originally thought would be my lunch the next day. Everyone liked it so much, there were no leftovers. Seriously, you HAVE TO make this soup!

Mac-N-Cheese A kid favorite, this list couldn't not include some good ol' mac-n-cheese. But I'm not talking about the boxed kind, I'm talking about the homemade kind. While this isn't the healthiest option on the list, you can do things to make it a little healthier, like using whole wheat pasta, soy milk, or low-fat cheese. You can also try this Quinoa Mac N Cheese recipe, another favorite in our house.

Corn & Zucchini Fritters This idea came from Bon Appetit and is actually an idea I have yet tried with Dylan and not really sure if he will like. However, I do love it and am hoping it's a success. Prepare a batch of whole wheat pancake batter, using about 1/2 the liquid. Stir in a cup thawed frozen corn, one small grated zucchini and a handful of Parmesan, and a sliced scallion. The zucchini will add moisture; add more liquid if the batter is too stiff. Cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Pack with Greek yogurt for dipping.

BLTA wraps (or any other kind of wrap) Wraps are a fun and different take on a sandwich. At least that's what Dylan thinks. I make these frequently and he loves them. His only complaint: that the wraps would fall apart on him, so when I made them, I started wrapping the finished wrap in parchment or wax paper (just depended on what I had at the moment). I told him when it was lunch time, to just unwrap a little of the paper and eat the wrap so it would stay closed. He said that it was much better. Just like sandwiches, the possibilities are endless, like an amazingly awesome BLTA wrap. A BLT with avocado anyone? Sounds like my kind of lunch.

Smoothies This idea is not mine. I wish it was. I want to claim this one as my own genius idea. Instead, I have to leave the credit to Lisa from 100 Days of Real Food. Dylan loves smoothies. I think the kid could live off smoothies and PB&J, so when I found this idea, I knew I had to include it in the post. Lisa uses these freeze pop molds, which I will be ordering soon to freeze the smoothies in. You can make any smoothie you want. I say load it with all the veggies you can. And then when you pack your kid's lunch, just pull one out of the freezer and it will still be cold, but partially thawed for lunch time.

Last, I want to share this post by Lisa Leake over at 100 Days of Real Food. When I was searching the internet for more ideas, I came across her School Lunch Round-up post and immediately knew this was a post worth pinning. She has way too many ideas to mention in this post, so instead, I want to share the entire post with you. If you have school-aged kids, you should totally check this post out.

Some of these sound so delicious that they will actually be going on my lunch menu too, as well as Jordyn's menu. It's going to make lunch time at our house so easy. And be on the lookout next week for Part 2 to this post: Healthy Snacks for Kids. 

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