School Lunch Ideas

School lunches.

How did you feel when you read those two words?

If you’re anything like me, then the phrase school lunches strikes fear into the core of your very being.  Day after day after day, packing those lunches can feel like a never-ending (and rarely thankful) chore!

Although time is always a factor for me, my biggest issue has always been coming up with new school lunch ideas that fit my criteria of a good lunch:
  • Filling: I have hungry boys that gulp down food – no small, snack-filled, ‘picking’ lunches will do!
  • Delicious: Ok, maybe I’m overstating “delicious” but at the very least they need to be something my kids will eat! 
  • Nutritious: When I’m looking to feed my kids, I challenge myself to choose a variety of options in order to offer the most nutrition. I also include organic choices wherever I can fit them into my budget
I know I’m not alone in my school lunch loathing, so I have compiled a few tips and tricks to make lunches delicious and filling (I also have a few recipes so make sure you read all the way to the end!).

When buying pre-packaged, buy organicI strongly believe that purchasing and consuming organic foods is so important but the cost of organics can be prohibitive. If you’re like me, then you are constantly weighing the cost of a product and trying to make the best choices you can. Families are all on budgets, and that’s why I’m so excited about Walmart’s new line of Great Value Organic products. They’re certified Canadian organic and – here’s my favourite part – I can afford them!!!  My kids get to eat their favourite lunch foods, but I get the satisfaction of knowing that they are eating pesticide free, organic options that don’t break my bank account. It’s a win-win.

Cook extrasI cook dinner for my family every evening and, although it takes a bit of pre-planning, cooking extras makes school lunch packing so easy! Both of my boys are obsessed with noodles, so I always cook extra pasta (I love the Great Value Organic Spaghetti - it cooks in 10 minutes). Once cooked, I place it in the fridge so it is ready to throw into a lunch with some leftover chicken or bacon at a moment’s notice.

Keep it simpleUse my three “must haves” (filling, delicious, nutritious) as a mental checklist when packing lunches but don’t make it hard on yourself.  Keep healthy, easy-to-grab lunch essentials on hand (I love Great Value Organic’s Apple Cranberry Chewy Granola Bars – they have 12g of whole grains per bar!), and have them ready to toss into a lunch bag.

Variety {is the spice of life!}Don’t get stuck in a sandwich-only rut! Think outside the bread and come up with a few easy lunch ideas that are sure to be gobbled up (check out my recipe for Overnight Oats below). Rotate lunches and keep your kids guessing! Even better, get them to help you pack their lunch bag by giving them healthy options and choices.

Now for some of my no-fail lunch box ideas that you can start using today.

Try either of these main (non-sandwich!) lunch ideas, along with some of my favourite snack options, a piece of fresh fruit and some whole grain crackers and your lunch box is good to go!
The ‘Noodley’ Lunch
If you have little (or big) noodle monsters in your house, this is a fantastic lunch box option that is sure to fill hungry bellies and make you feel great about feeding your family with quality, organic, homemade food!  
What you need: 
½ package Great Value Organic Spaghetti 
½ cup Great Value Organic Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce 
2 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped 
Cheddar cheese, grated (optional) 
Frozen corn or peas (optional)                                                                                                                                   

 
          What to do: 
Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and set aside. 
In a small saucepan, add spaghetti sauce and the finely chopped basil leaves. Warm on medium heat until simmering. 
Add the cooked pasta into the sauce until the pasta is coated. Do not over sauce the noodles (remember: this will be in your child’s lunch and you don’t want them to come home covered in tomato sauce).  
If desired, add one handful of frozen corn or peas. 
Remove from heat and place in a thermos or lunch container. 
Garnish with grated cheddar cheese. 
Tip: Use this as an opportunity to add in your child’s favourite veggie. If they don’t enjoy peas or corn, add some lightly steamed broccoli, cherry tomatoes or a handful of spinach leaves. Switch up the cheddar for baby bocconcini or grated parm. Once you have the base of this recipe down, the sky’s the limit
Yum, Yum, Yum!

The ‘Breakfast for Lunch’ Lunch 
This is amazingly wholesome, unbelievably delicious and oh-so-easy to make! Your kids will love it and you will love how easy it is to make for school lunches. 
 What you need: 
½ cup Great Value Organic Steel Cut Oats 
½ cup milk (any dairy or non-dairy milk will do) 
1 cup Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla) 
2 tbsp shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened) 
Mango 
Mason jar with lid 
What to do: 
In a mason jar, stir together uncooked steel cut oats, milk, and Greek yogurt.  
Seal lid tightly and place in fridge for at least 4-6 hours or (preferably) overnight.
In the morning, remove lid and add mango chunks and shredded coconut on top.   
Reseal the lid and pack in your lunch bag!  
Tip: Don’t like mango or coconut? No problem! Any topping that your child enjoys is fair game. We love berries, bananas, mini chocolate chips, pineapple or mandarin orange slices.
Wholesome and delicious!

Add It In!

Now that you have some new ideas for scrumptious school lunch main dishes, take the time to stock your pantry with delicious add-ins.

Remember to keep tasty and filling snacks on hand to compliment your child’s lunch and keep them satisfied all day long. I am particularly in love with the affordable options from Walmart’s exclusive Great Value Organic line. Pop some organic popcorn (and sprinkle it with a teaspoon of cinnamon and sugar for an extra special lunch treat!) and include an apple cranberry chewy granola bar or two chocolate chip cookies (they’re peanut free!). All are great additions to any school lunch and they are easy and affordable for parents. Head to your nearest Walmart or visit www.walmart.ca/greatvalue to see these great products!



Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Walmart Canada, as part of the Great Value Organics program. In exchange for this review, I have received special perks in the form of products and/or compensation. All opinions on this blog are my own.


4 comments:

  1. How awesome is it that Walmart sells organic products now? At least I now have options!

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  2. Love it! I don't have kids but I always try to eat organic and this will give me a more budget-friendly option!

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  3. Great blog! Good for Walmart in adding organic foods at a reasonable price!

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  4. I love the breakfast lunch idea. It is so good. I love Walmart Organics

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