Allergies, paleo, plant-based, gluten sensitivities… these are just a few of the most common special diets that many parents have to work with as they pack school lunches every day. Sometimes it seems that we have more ‘no’ foods than ‘yes’ foods, and coming up with ways to nourish our kids while they’re at school with foods they’ll actually eat becomes nearly impossible.
The good news is that there are some simple and effective things we can do to get super healthy, super gentle foods in our kids’ diets at school without going completely crazy trying to make it happen. Here are some ideas to help make it easy for you and your family:
- Variety is the spice of life! Try various combinations of ‘safe’ foods and mix-and-match to keep them guessing about what will show up in their lunch bag each day.
- Identify what foods your kids love most and use them to your advantage. If you have kids that love eggs, mix and match with egg salad, hard-boiled eggs, and other egg recipes to give them animal proteins. If you’ve got kids who love bell peppers and other sweet veggies, get creative with plant-based dips so that you can include various bell pepper colors in their lunches every day.
- Check out recipe blogs and actually try some of those neat things you’ve seen! Chia puddings, paleo bread, gluten-free wraps, date balls, homemade energy bars, and so on all look great on Pinterest and Instagram – but they’ll look even better when they get made in your own kitchen!
- Talk to your kids openly about the foods they love most – and the foods they don’t. Work with their cravings and likes to try and expand their love of healthier foods.
Here are some ideas you can start with that work well for most special diets:
- Bell pepper, carrot, and cucumber veggie mixes with vegan dip
- Homemade allergy-free granola bars or energy bars
- Date balls
- Egg salad on paleo bread
- Lettuce wraps
- Diced fruits – get exotic to keep things interesting
- Chia puddings
- Plant-based yogurts
Start simple and slowly build on what works for your kids, your fridge, and your family’s health. You may be surprised at how many options you can come up with!
What are your favorite things to pack in your kid’s school lunches?
Share them with us in the comments below!