Now that your kids are back in school, give their mid-day meal a boost of awesome. Bay Area Mom turned cookbook-author Jennifer Tyler Lee is here to help you do just that. If her name sounds familiar you might’ve already played her nutrition game Crunch a Color, checked out her cookbook The 52 New Foods Challenge or heard influencers like Jessica Alba, Michael Pollan or Jamie Oliver sing her praises. Jen recently spoke to us about tips for packing lunches and gave us a sample of her favorite each lunch ideas. Check it out below.
3 Tips to Live By for Easy Lunches
• Follow a Formula: Three colors + one protein + one healthy grains = a better box. This simple formula is easy for kids and parents to remember, and makes for a playful and colorful box—one of the keys to lunch packing success.
• Kids Pick + Pack. Set up a kids’ snack drawer in your fridge and pack it with colorful fruits and veggies that are portable. Make it the kids’ job to pick their snacks and pack them. If they put it in the box, they’ll be more likely to eat it. Watch how Jen sets up her kids’ snack drawer by clicking here.
• Think Out of the Box: School lunches can be the worst offenders when it comes to processed and over packaged foods. Pick one category, like snack bars, and make them at home. You’ll find it’s a boost for your budget too.
Get Packing! The Scoop on Jen’s Favorite Lunch Ideas:
1, Lunch Crepes (pair with Apple Chips & Chocolate Rocket, below)
Rethink the classic PB&J sandwich. Pair Jen’s Healthy Crepes with sunflower butter, apples & jam, or tuck in bananas and Jen’s homemade chocolate hazelnut spread, for a fresh take on boring sandwiches.
2. Nut-Free Basil Pesto Pizza Bites (pair with Tomato Pops & Bitty Bites, below)
Pizza can be healthy too! This yummy nut-free basil pesto pizza is made with a whole-wheat crust and dressed up with pesto and pops of cherry tomato. Jen serves it bite-size for her kids’ lunches.
3. Tomato Pops (pair with “Chips” and Dips & Bitty Bites, below)
Caprese salad with a kid-friendly twist! These pint-size tomato-mozzarella skewers make fresh-picked cherry tomatoes even more fun to enjoy! Perfect for packing in a lunchbox.
4. Baked Apple Chips
These crunchy chips make a great lunchbox snack. Bonus: they’re an easy way to wean your kids off packaged snacks. Keep a big batch of these chips in a glass jar in your pantry to make it easy for you and your kids to grab when hunger strikes!
5. Bitty Bites
Nut-free + no-bake = A+ lunch snack. Jen’s Bitty Bites are a no-bake cookie made with sunflower butter. They are great as a lunchbox snack, after-school bite, or post-game energy recharger. Bonus: they are easy and fun for your kids to make. You don’t need to be exact with the measurements, which means you can give lots of creative freedom to your kids.
6. Power Bars (pair with Fruit Leather & Veggie Stir-Fry, below)
This homemade granola bar recipe gets its power from flaxseed. It is fun to make together and can easily be modified to feature your favorite fixings. These bars are crunchy and crumbly. When you’re done cutting them, the baking sheet will be filled with tasty chunks of granola— perfect for sprinkling over yogurt parfaits.
7. “Chips” and Dips
Dips are a great way to get kids to eat their veggies, and the lunchbox is no exception. Jen likes to pack James’ Guacamole or Healthy Homemade Hummus in small glass containers along with rainbow carrots sliced into coins like “chips.”
8. The Chocolate Rocket
This incredibly delicious chocolate pudding isn’t just for dessert. It’s a perfect lunchbox companion because it’s quick for kids to eat (with only a few minutes to eat you need to make those minutes count) and the healthy fats will keep them powering through the day.
10. Peach Fruit Leather
Homemade fruit leather is the perfect recipe for overripe seasonal fruit, especially peaches! Double the batch and make enough to share with friends. Everyone will want to trade lunches with you.
Which lunch idea will you try out? Do you have any more lunchtime tips for our community? Leave a comment below.
Heralded by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution as “A mom and genius game creator helping kids eat fresh food!”, Jennifer Tyler Lee is an award-winning author, game creator, and healthy eating advocate. Jennifer has garnered national attention for her new family cookbook, The 52 New Foods Challenge, and her nutrition game, Crunch a Color®: The Healthy Eating Game, and developed a loyal following of parents and grandparents who tune in to her fast, easy, and delicious recipes each week.