School Lunchbox Ideas

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):

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Lunch Box Ideas
  • Grilled Cheese
  • Rice Cakes and Sun Butter
  • Deli Meat Rollup
  • Pasta (Tortellini, mac and cheese, spaghetti, etc.)
  • mini waffles or pancakes
  • muffins
  • Pita with hummus
  • Sweet and Sour Kielbasa
  • Quesadilla

Pair these main options with:

  • Yogurt
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Steamed veggies
  • Cheese Stick
  • Cottage Cheese
  • 3 bean salad
  • Tabouli
  • Yogurt covered pretzels
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Avocado slices

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:


Our Favorite Smoothies

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.

Simply Living Green Monster Smoothie
The makings of a Green Monster smoothie

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!

Simply Living Green Monster Smoothie
The delicious Green Monster

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!  

8.3 Whole30 Breakfast
Almond Butter Banana Smoothie

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!

What are your favorite recipes?

Life after the Whole30

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!

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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.
  • Weight loss

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.
Whole30 Lunch
Our plates were colorful and our meals were delicious!

Our Tips:

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.

Whole30 Days 27-30!

The last horrah!  We made it to the end…more on that later.  I again only took pictures of new or interesting meals, but take a look at what our last 4 days consisted of:

Day 27:

7.31 Whole30 breakfast
Fruit Salad and scrambled eggs with Pesto. Got the green eggs…just missing the ham!
7.31 Whole30 Dinner
Salisbury Steak, Green Beans with Balsamic Vinegar and Mashed Potatoes with Ghee

Day 28:

8.1 Whole30 Snack
First day of August and my office A/C is so frigid that I broke down and needed a mid-day hot coffee. Still struggling to drink it black, but I’m getting used to the taste.
8.1 Whole30 Dinner
Homemade taco seasoning simmered with beef, topped with salsa and guacamole inside a lettuce wrap

Day 29:

8.2 Breakfast
Breakfast on the go…banana, cashew larabar and ice water.
8.2 Whole30 Dinner2
Perusing the natural aisle we found a new brand to try, frozen spinach cakes. Brian loved them, I thought they were only ok.
8.2 Whole30 Dinner
Spinach cakes, compliant bacon, turkey meat sautéed with green peppers and sweet onions.

Day 30:

8.3 Whole30 Breakfast
Almond Butter, Banana and coconut milk smoothie with a side of fresh strawberries
8.3 Whole 30 Dinner
Stir fry with peppers, onion, broccoli, beef with a Tahini sauce dressing. Organic sweets and beats on the side.

We did it!  We made it!  We survived!  30 days was hard work…but it paid off.  First thing I splurged on was an iced coffee with cream and sugar…boy did I miss that!

Overall I lost 11 pounds and my husband lost 14.  I never once stepped foot into a gym…I didn’t do anything differently other than change my diet.  I think that is pretty impressive!  

Come back later this week for our overall impression and tips.  And if you’re participating we would love to hear your best practices as well!

Whole30 Days 20-26

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:

7.22 Whole30 Breakfast
Breakfast of fried eggs, fresh fruit and a tall glass of water

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!

Whole30 French Fries
The mandolin makes the perfect french fries, we baked them in the oven to make them Whole30 compliant!
Whole30 French Fries
Potatoes sliced by the mandolin and tossed in light olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, basil, salt, pepper and a little bit of paprika. Baked to perfection in the oven
Whole30 Brunch
We re-fried left over potato medley and topped them with 2 poached eggs and complaint “faux” hollandaise sauce. A side of compliant bacon made the perfect Brunch.
Whole30 DInner
Turkey burgers topped with pineapple, mango salsa, avocado oil chips and broccoli
Whole30 Breakfast
Smoked Salmon was the perfect breakfast addition when I needed a break from eggs. I had this with a side of fresh fruit and was good to go!
Whole30 Dinner
Back to the oven baked French Fries, because they were that good! More broccoli and a perfectly grilled steak.
Whole30 Restaurant Dinner
One of the rare times we’ve braved going to a restaurant…ice burg lettuce, grilled chicken, apples and dried cranberries. Dressing on the side.
Whole30 Dinner zoodles
Back to the zoodles! We have had so so so much zucchini on this diet
Whole30 lunch
Quick stop at Whole Foods, well balanced salad with avocado dressing and a cold pressed grapefruit juice. Perfection.

Stay tuned for our last 4 days, and what our final results end up being!