Now that the school year is off to a start perhaps you are looking for new lunch ideas for your child. Do you have a picky eater? Trying to branch out from sandwiches and mix up their lunch box repertoire? After working in Early Education for many years I have come up with many healthy and nut free options, since most schools are now nut free. Here are just a few (please remember that based on the age of your child you will need to cut/slice food to appropriate size):
Rice Cakes and Sun Butter
Deli Meat Rollup
Pasta (Tortellini, mac and cheese, spaghetti, etc.)
mini waffles or pancakes
Pita with hummus
Sweet and Sour Kielbasa
Pair these main options with:
3 bean salad
Yogurt covered pretzels
Why not pack your own lunch at the same time! You’ll definitely feel like you are eating healthier and saving more money than ordering lunch every day. Leftovers from dinner the night before are also great lunch ideas!
What was in your lunch box today?
Here are some of our favorite lunch boxes – amazon links:
When looking for a quick grab and go breakfast or a protein packed snack a smoothie is something we often forget, but is super simple and takes little to no time!
My number one favorite smoothie is the green monster, you can see my exact recipe here. It contains frozen peaches, frozen pinapple, a banana, spinach and orange juice.
At this point I have made it so many times I don’t use measurements, but just eyeball it. It’s a great way to get some leafy greens in, without even tasting it. It may look green, but it tastes just like banana and pineapple. This would be a great way to get your kids to eat some spinach!
My second favorite smoothie is the one we made during our Whole30 here. This one contains banana, almond butter and coconut milk. That’s it!
Again, I don’t really use measurements, just more of an eyeball. If I don’t like the consistency I just add a little extra coconut milk to loosen it up, or more banana to thicken it. Since typically the 3 ingredients are room temperature, you can add a little ice if you would like to make it nice and frosty. Packed with protein and good nutrients, but not a good idea around children with nut allergies!
My last go to smoothie is a triple berry smoothie. I like to use raspberry, blueberry and strawberry. Pop them in a blender with a banana, a handful of hidden spinach, a scoop of vanilla yogurt and a splash of almond milk. So delicious and beautifully colored!
If you’re looking for an extra protein punch you can also always add in a scoop of your favorite protein powder. I love that there are so many ways to get in fruits and veggies, and it’s nice to mix up the liquid. A little OJ when you need extra vitamin C, or perhaps Coconut Milk or Almond milk of you are looking for a lower fat dairy free option. The options are limitless!
Another tip is to stock up on fruit when it is on sale and freeze, then it’s ready to go! We make baggies ahead of time of the fruits we need, then when we are ready to make a smoothie we empty a packet into the blender, add some leafy greens, our liquid of choice and you are ready to blend.
These days we use our nutribullet. which was a wedding gift. I think it’s great for making single servings when you are literally on the go. If you use a single serving cup, you can just take off the blade and attach a lid and you take the whole thing with you. They also have larger attachments if we are planning to share. We also find that it is way easier to clean than trying to stick your hand inside a large blender without getting cut on the blade. We highly recommend it!
If you checked out the last post here, you will have seen that we successfully completed our first Whole30! I managed to loose 11 pounds, and my husband lost 14. I personally never stepped foot into a gym, I didn’t alter my routine at all, I just changed what I ate. Focusing on whole foods, fresh produce, and little to no ingredients clearly made a huge difference. But it also wasn’t super easy. Here is a list of some of our Pros, Cons and tips for anything thinking about starting their first Whole30!
Our Personal Pros:
Opened our eyes to sneaky ingredients in processed food
Reading lables taught us to look for ingredients rather than just number of calories or amount of protein.
Better eating habits, including making time to have 3 well rounded meals a day
Branching out and trying new foods (and surprisingly liking them!)
Cut down on mindless snacking
Threw out less “forgotten” food in the refrigerator
Almost completely eliminated the expenses we were spending eating out or grabbing take-out.
Gained a new appreciation for high quality food and being healthy
We felt “healthier”
Having a meal plan and sticking to it saved us time and $$. I didn’t have to worry about whether or not we had the right ingredients. After a long day at work I didn’t have to wonder what I could possibly throw together for a meal. It eliminated the need to make multiple trips to the grocery store, again saving us time and $$.
Time spent together. We spent more time shopping and cooking together, and generally had dinner together each night.
Our Personal Cons:
Expensive Grocery Bill – organic produce, free range and grass fed..$$$
Food prep is time consuming! After a 12 hour work day and an hour commute home thinking about being in the kitchen for another extended period of time was hard.
Feeling restricted when visiting family (a family cookout and birthday party were harder and full of temptations)
Some meals got boring after a while, you can only have eggs so many days in a row for breakfast!
Brian felt the lack of carbs when he would workout and then spend a full day at a very physically demanding job. Meals were not as filling for him.
I was disappointed not to see the most common benefits such as more energy and better sleep at night.
If you’re thinking about giving the Whole30 a try, or if you’ve done one before and you’re looking to mix things up we found a lot of these helpful:
Check out the website! There is a really useful shopping list, restaurant guide, substitutions and recipe suggestions.
Follow Whole30 on Instagram and/or facebook. They often have guests posting, who are regular people just like us, who offer great recipe suggestions, motivation and real life stories. Having a network is especially helpful if you are trying to Whole30 alone!
Make a meal plan. I can’t say this enough. It saved us so many trips to the grocery store which wastes time and $$
Prepare as much ahead of time as possible. Cook a big batch of something that can be used in multiple meals. Cut all your veggies so salad assembly is easy. Pack your lunch the night before. Seriously, it makes a BIG difference.
Keep yourself busy so you’re not always focused on food. If you have a quiet weekend at home, get up and go for a walk or make plans. Sitting in the house thinking about snacking can be a huge let down.
Have the willpower to be around food you cannot have and still be able to turn it down. Instead focus on what you CAN have. It will help you stay on track while being around family and friends without the same restrictions. If you can’t resist your urges, avoid those situations as much as possible.
Get people to join you! There is a force in numbers, the more support you have, the easier you will find it. You can swap recipe suggestions and get together for meals knowing that you are not alone.
As we rounded the home stretch to our first Whole30 I made my biggest mistake. No weekly meal plan. It resulted in last minute trips to various grocery stores, repeat meals and panicking at the last minute trying to throw something compliant together for a meal. I learned my lesson! In order to really follow the Whole30 you have to have a plan in place, it saves so much time, so much money, and really helps mentally prepare yourself for the coming week.
Here are some of our meals:
My newest favorite kitchen gadget is the mandolin I received for my birthday. It makes perfect french fries, my most favorite food ever! I could have eaten just a plate of french fries alone for a meal!
Stay tuned for our last 4 days, and what our final results end up being!