Back to School Lunch Hacks

Back to School Lunch Hacks

Crisp air, the smell of No. 2 pencils in the shopping aisles, and the luring anticipation of routine is upon us and that means one thing – it’s back to school season! Whether your kiddo packs their school lunch or you need some weekend inspo, I’m breaking down the art of a well-balanced lunch that’s bound to be not only nutritious, but delicious.

The Bento Box bandwagon is a hot trend for school lunches and for two great reasons:

  1. Meal Prepping Simplified: compartmented food storage containers are a great way to pack your meals ahead of time and ensure freshness when you’re ready to enjoy! Reusable, stackable, and durable – kid-safe and parent-approved!

  2. Balance Made Easy: having compartments offers a great visual to ensure a balanced meal. Aiming for a serving of protein, veggies, whole grains, fats, fruit, and dairy will guarantee brain fuel to tackle the rest of the day.

Packing a lunch is one step, but how do you get your kids to eat it? I’ll share a couple tips below!

  • Get packing… together! Offering 1-2 nutritious options from each food group can go a long way. We’ve all experienced kids exercising their need for autonomy (that’s one way to put it, right?) – when they get to make their own choices, they are more likely to eat and enjoy their food!
  • Keep it interesting. Kids aren’t expecting any Pinterest-worthy concoctions, but varying colors, textures, and dips can add enough spice to entice!

Now that you’re armed with a few tips and tricks up your cable-knit sweater sleeve, let’s break down some grocery staples you can add to your back to school shopping list!

Protein:
Hard-boiled Eggs
Deli Meat
Cottage Cheese
Tuna
Grilled Chicken

Whole Grains:
Whole grain wraps
Whole grain pasta
Whole wheat waffles
Whole grain bread
Whole grain crackers
Pretzels
Brown Rice
Beans
Potatoes

Fats:
Seeds or Seed Butter
Nuts or Nut Butter (check your school policy)
Avocado
Olives
Hummus
Dips/Dressings

Dairy:
Cheese
Greek Yogurt
Milk

Veggies:
Sweet bell peppers
Celery
Baby Carrots
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Lettuce
Green Beans
Tomatoes
Pea Pods

Fruit:
Pears
Clementines
Oranges
Cherries
Grapes
Banana
Melon
Peaches
Pineapple
Berries
Kiwi

Recipe: Turkey Twists

Serves: 1

Ingredients:
Whole Grain Wrap
2 Tbsp. Hummus
¼ cup Red Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
¼ cup Cucumber, thinly sliced
3 Slices of Turkey

Instructions:

  1. Spread your favorite flavored hummus on the whole grain wrap.
  2. Layer peppers and cucumbers on top of hummus, then top with turkey slices.
  3. Roll your wrap and slice into 1-2 inch pinwheels.
  4. Serve Turkey Twists with a side of fruit and dairy for a well-balanced lunch!

Sweet Corn Polenta with Sage & Feta

I’m not sure why we don’t eat more polenta in South Dakota. It’s a great way to use corn as a side dish and base for creative sauces. It’s especially delicious when made with fresh sweet corn, a seasonal treat. Top with a tangy tomato chutney, sliced grilled sausage, marinated shrimp, in-the-shell stir fried peas… the options are endless!

Sweet Corn Polenta with Sage & Feta

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 large ears of sweet corn (use 8-10 if small ears)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 oz feta
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped sage (or herb of your choice)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instruction:

  1. Shuck corn to remove leaves and tassels. Use a knife or corn stripper to remove kernels from the cob, cutting as close to the cob as possible. Put kernels in a stock pot and add water, just to cover kernels. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Once cooked, strain corn from the pan and place into a blender. Reserve the remaining liquid by pouring into a measuring cup or bowl. Blend the corn until desired texture (I prefer mostly smooth with a few chunks). Add reserved corn water to blender as needed to ensure a consistent blend and nice texture.
  3. Once blended, pour corn back into the empty pan. Add a little of the remaining corn water and cook on low until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Be careful! The mixture can bubble a lot but the tall sides of the stock pot should help keep it contained.
  4. Stir in butter, 3.5 oz of the feta, and herbs. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Cook until butter is melted and feta softens. Transfer to serving bowl and top with remaining .5 ounce feta and fresh herb sprigs.

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi.