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:
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!
This week marked the halfway point of our Whole30 journey! We are feeling good and I’m proud that we haven’t slipped up so far. Here are our thoughts so far:
Well Rounded Meals
Sitting Down to Breakfast starts the day off right
Making Healthy Choices
Becoming more aware of the hidden sugars and ingredients lurking in processed foods
No more headaches
Fewer trips to the grocery store with a solid meal plan
Discovered foods we didn’t know we would like
Lot’s of meal prep
Expensive grocery bills – organic foods are killer!
Turning on the oven in 90 degree weather…
Lack of motivation to create a full meal after a long day (this is when we used to fall into the takeout habit)
So. Many. Dishes
Honestly we haven’t noticed any of the main things we were looking for, ie: more energy, better sleep at night, clearer skin, etc. And we obviously won’t know whether there was any weight loss until the end. Overall the pros outweigh the cons, but there certainly haven’t been any life changing moments.
On to the meal plan!
We are continuing to use our meal planning app, which is a great way to keep us on target and share meals for the week. This is not endorsed, but we are using the free version of “Meal Planner” from the apple store. I give it 2 thumbs up. You will see meals being repeated, we are falling back into comfort zones, easy meals, and ones we have found we really enjoy. I don’t have photos for every meal, just the new or really great ones!
Without further delay… da photos:
We have received some skepticism regarding how there could possible be a “whole” hotdog, aren’t they super processed food? The best brand we have found is Applegate. Again, NOT endorsed, we just love them. Applegate creates natural and organic meats. Here is their label, which shows that the hotdogs are made from grass fed beef and other simple ingredients. No preservatives, no antibiotics, no added sugar, no nitrates. We highly recommend them, not the easiest brand to find, but we found them at Wegmans.
We had a lot of really good meals this week, and a lot of repeated meals. But I think that is ok. I am finally getting comfortable with the ingredients I can use that I’ve been able to branch out from just strictly following recipes, which has felt pretty good. Would you like to see some recipes on a later post? Let me know if you do, I would be happy to share!
If you would like to read about the beginning of our Whole30 journey check out days 1-6 HERE.
Currently we are almost wrapping up week 2, which means we are almost half way done! I still don’t feel any major differences, but my headaches are pretty much gone. It must have just been from detoxing my body off of sugar and caffeine. You are allowed caffeine on the Whole30, but without cream and sugar in my coffee I have virtually stopped drinking it. My husband did notice that by Friday afternoon he was seriously dragging. He gets up and does early morning workouts and then is pretty active all day long outside in the heat, so we are thinking we need to up his caloric intake.
I do think that clean eating has started to become a habit for us. The extra time it takes to meal prep can be frustrating. I have definitely had more than one occasion where after a marathon day at work I would so much rather stop for take out rather than coming home and preparing a whole meal. And the dishes….SO MANY dishes. But so far we have resisted, 12 days down without a single cheat. We did go out to dinner once, I got grilled Salmon and broccoli and my husband got lettuce wraps…so impressed with us!
I downloaded a free app this week called “Meal Planner Pal” and it has been great! You can add in Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks for a whole week.
Then, you can choose who to email it to. So I was able to share the whole week’s worth of meals with my husband. It has definitely helped us stay organized and stay on plan. Here is what it looks like when you receive an email:
I also made a big pitcher of green tea to last us through the week. I just brewed mandarine green tea and then added frozen peaches and fresh mint from the garden. It was a great morning replacement for my normal cup of coffee.
Now onto some of our meals!
I think we are starting to get a little bit sick of eggs, and I’ve been trying to limit our fruit intake and replace with more vegetables. So I need to really do some research on breakfast ideas for this week!
Overall our meals have been time consuming but pretty filling and delicious. One of my favorites were the sweet potato and zucchini latkes. I shredded 2 zucchinis and 2 sweet potatoes and added one egg. I sprinkled in some almond flour, onion flakes, and a few spices to taste. Formed them into pancakes and fried in light olive oil.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a huge sweet potato or zucchini fan, but these were delicious! I have also really enjoyed the zucchini noodles we have made. Maybe my tastes are changing after all…
And for a sweet treat on a night when I needed dessert we cut up a granny smith apple and added almond butter. Yum!