Hard to believe it, but for many of us, it’s already time to wrap up the back-to-school shopping and start packing those backpacks for another new school year. (Where did the summer go?)
One of the bigger challenges when it comes to school time – especially with older children and teens – is creating a healthy, tasty packed lunch. Eating a healthy lunch is particularly important for middle and high schoolers. Not only does it increase energy, it begins building the foundation of healthy eating as they continue to grow and eventually graduate and head to college. It’s shocking to know that childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Let’s get them eating healthy creative lunches.
But turkey sandwiches and celery sticks can be boring, right?
So here are some more creative – yet not overly complicated – lunch offerings for the tween and teen in your life.
Suggested by Seventeen magazine, the chicken pita replaces the basic sandwich with a simple yogurt-based chicken salad (no mayonnaise!) and a slice of pita bread.
Bon Appetit magazine offers several tasty and fun suggestions, including this twist on a traditional BLT. What’s the A you ask? Avocado, of course. By creating this as a wrap and not a sandwich, it also makes it easier to transport – simply wrap in aluminum foil, parchment or wax paper and you’re good to go!
This one wins for appearance, hands down. Start with sushi rice, then roll avocado, carrots and cucumber. Don’t forget a packet or two of soy sauce as well. It’ll be the hit of the lunchroom!
BBQ Chicken Sloppy Joes
It’s a sandwich that has the luxury of being delicious, whether it’s served hot or cold. And it begins with a simple trip to the grocery store for a rotisserie chicken. Shred the chicken, then add carrots and barbecue sauce and some cilantro or parsley for good measure. Bon Appetit recommends a whole wheat bun, but this would work in a wrap or on sliced bread as well – just pack the meat separately to avoid a soggy mess!
Soba Salad with Chicken and Cabbage
The problem with packing a traditional salad for lunch is the dressing. If you dress the salad before scrambling to the bus stop in the morning, you’ll have soggy greens. And packing dressings can be tricky and lead to accidental sticky lunch bags. Enter this salad, which solves the dressing issue by making its bed of cabbage rather than lettuce, which reduces the sogginess. It’s light and crunchy and crisp … and full of flavor.
Pizza Pasta Salad
Another fun option, especially for teens, is this unique twist on pizza from BBC’s GoodFood. It includes pesto and tomatoes and mozzarella cheese and basil and is not only tasty, but can be a beautiful presentation as well.
Or, if that one’s not quite doing it for your favorite high schooler, here’s a variation from Real Simple magazine, which combines pasta, spinach, tomatoes and salami.
See? Healthy lunches don’t have to be boring at all! Combine healthy eating with a Rhoades Car in your life, and your kids will be much healthier.
Do you have any other creative and healthy lunch options for your older child, tween or teen? Share them in the comments below please.