Eat Right: Healthy Back-to-School Lunchbox Ideas

LunchboxSchool is back from summer, and the perks of packing lunches for New Jammies kids is the ability to control what they eat for lunch.

That means more fruits and veggies. And less fillers and high fructose sugars.

At New Jammies, we love lunchbox recipes that are simple and nutritious, making prep time quicker and lunches more healthy. For her toddler, New Jammies founder Nicole Ludlow makes easy snacks that can easily be adapted to lunchbox fare in the next few years as he heads to class.

“I cut up all kinds of fruit — grapes, strawberries, peaches, plums, bananas, avocado, etc. Harder fruits or veggies like apples, pears, carrots I might steam,” she says. “Fruits and cheeses are also the easiest snack for me right now.”

The Cooking Light website is a helpful resource for nutritional lunchbox ideas, for kids. In the “Healthy Eating for Kids: Recipes and Nutrition Advice” article, which suggests delicious foods kids will eat and nutritious meals moms will love, Sidney Fry, MS, RD, offers several ideas for back-to-school, including:

OrangeFor the Rabbits
Give salad greens some oomph with lots of lean protein.

Veggies: Mixed greens, 2 oz. rotisserie chicken, 1 tablespoon sliced almonds, 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes, 1 hard-cooked egg, 2 tablespoons oil-and-vinegar dressing
Fruit: 1 orange, peeled
Snack: 2 cups 94%-fat-free popcorn
Stats: 444 calories, 4g sat fat, 460mg sodium

The Pita Pocketeer
Low-fat Greek yogurt is the base for this tangy chicken salad. Chocolate kisses are perfectly portioned treats.

Protein and veggies: CL Creamy Chicken Salad (1/2 cup) with mixed greens in half a 6-inch whole-wheat pita
Fruit: 1 medium apple
Snack: 4 milk chocolate kisses
Stats: 446 calories, 4.6g sat fat, 451mg sodium

Creamy Chicken Salad
Courtesy Cooking Light

Ingredients
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
7 tablespoons (about 2 ounces) coarsely chopped smoked almonds
6 cups mixed salad greens

Preparation
1. Fill a Dutch oven two-thirds full of water; bring to a boil.
2. Wrap each chicken breast half completely and tightly in heavy-duty plastic wrap. Add the chicken to boiling water. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165°. Remove from pan, and let stand for 5 minutes. Unwrap chicken and shred; refrigerate for 30 minutes or until cold.
3. Combine mayonnaise and the next 7 ingredients (through black pepper) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until combined. Add chicken, 1/3 cup celery, cranberries, and almonds; toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve over salad greens.

On its yummy website, the Food Network’s chefs provide recipes for kid-approved lunchbox ideas. Soup is universally known to be good for the soul, and it can be an easy addition in a lunchbox thermos to a cheese sandwich and goldfish crackers. Soups from the can are the go-to solution for on-the-go families. But this Food Network recipe for tomato soup only takes a blender or food processor and 10 minutes while the kids are doing homework to make for an homemade and healthy (less sodium and mystery ingredients) lunchbox option.

tomatoTen-Minute Tomato Soup
Courtesy the Food Network Kitchen

Ingredients
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, in juice
1 rib celery, roughly chopped
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 to 1/3 cup cream

Preparation
1. Puree the tomatoes, celery and broth in a blender until smooth. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Season with lemon juice and maple syrup. Stir in cream.
2. Transfer to a microwave safe bowl. Heat in microwave on HIGH until warmed through, about 4 minutes. (Alternatively heat the old-fashioned way in a pan.)
3. Pour hot soup into an air-tight thermos. Pack in a lunch sack and send off to school.

Total Time: 14 min (Prep: 10 min, cook: 4 min)
Yield: 4 servings

If your kids love store-bought oatmeal bars but you’re not crazy about all the food additives and preservatives, take some time to bake and control what they eat. Ree Drummond, best known as the Food Network’s Pioneer Woman, home schools her kids and makes their food from scratch as part of her family’s farm-to-table ranching life. In the episode “Little School House on the Prairie,” the Pioneer Woman whips up a batch of strawberry oatmeal bars that make 24. Freeze them to have bars available in advance.

StrawberryStrawberry Oatmeal Bars
Courtesy Ree Drummond

Ingredients
1 3/4 sticks salted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for greasing pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
One 10 to 12-ounce jar strawberry preserves

Preparation
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch rectangular pan.
2. Mix together the butter, flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Press half the oat mixture into the prepared pan. Spread with the strawberry preserves. Sprinkle the other half of the oat mixture over the top and pat lightly.
3. Bake until light brown, 30 to 40 minutes.
4. Let cool completely, and then cut into squares.

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Ranching Cowboys

Ranching Cowboys

New for Fall!
Head back-to-school with new designs now featured on the newjammies.com website. Check out these fun collections your kids will love:
Elephant Kites
Trains
Ballerina Slippers
Monster Trucks
Space Cadets
Moose Tracks
Rainbow Unicorns
Ranching Cowboys
Bicycle Hills