The memes about packing your kid’s lunch, especially toward the end of the school year when you’re burned out, are spot on. Whether you do it the night before or are a morning organizer, it can be a burden packing everyone up and getting them out the door with a nutritious lunch, not to mention trying to get creative. If you are looking for fun, new lunch ideas AND want to get more nutritious food into your kiddos keep reading!

I bought a PlanetBox Rover stainless steel lunch box when my oldest son was 2 and I’ve never looked back. He was moving to the Preschool side of a day care center and the teachers would no longer be able to heat up food as they had done in the infant/toddler room. I immediately fell in love with the lunch box and have since purchased another for my youngest. We have replaced the cover once, but the original lunch box is still in great condition-it is 8 years old!!

Here’s why I love it: Digestion starts in the brain (yes, you read that right). Opening up a lunch box like this and seeing whole foods in a variety of colors or even food in fun shapes (I’m not that creative, but you can be!) is super appealing. Start slow with tried and true favorites and branch out from there. Using a lunch box like this means less packaging/processed foods and baggies (yay for reducing waste!). The Rover also comes with one small and one large container and lids great for sauces, yogurt, etc. If your kids love school lunch and prefer to buy simply use these ideas for when they are home. When packing, I always strive for a protein, veggie, fruit, dairy, and carbohydrate. Sometimes I put a small treat in the center too. Here are some of my favorite combos:

· Sun butter or nut butter and Jelly sandwich sticks, cheese stick, apple slices, and kale chips
· Brown rice veggie sushi with coconut aminos dipping sauce, clementines, squeeze yogurt, and beef jerky
· Mexican wrap with refried beans or taco meat, lettuce, and cheese, ½ avocado with salt + pepper, grapes, and tortilla chips
· Pasta with butter and parmesan cheese, leftover meatballs, mixed salad with dressing, berries
· Leftover roasted chicken, cucumbers and guacamole or hummus cup, melon balls, trail mix
· Nitrate free pepperoni, cheddar cheese, simple mills crackers, kiwi, Larabar, and carrot and celery sticks
· Waffle or pancake cream cheese sandwich, egg muffin with veggies, breakfast sausage slices, and banana
· Leftover pizza, snap peas, dried apricots, and pistachios
· Turkey, cheddar, and spinach on a Dave’s Killer Bread bagel, pumpkin seeds, bell pepper strips, dark chocolate chips, and strawberries (pictured)

Yes, my kids will eat all of this cold and yours will too once they get used to it! I find my boys usually eat a great lunch at school since they are busy all morning and are having minimal snacks. They rarely come home with leftovers. I hope this post gave you some inspiration! Here’s to an unconventional, but happy and healthy school year.

Tamara Geffin, FNTP