Regardless of if you’re throwing together a meal for littles, bigs or simply just yourself, you need these easy, healthy, kid-friendly, and low/no-cook lunches in your life!
I get it. You walk in the door around noon after a full morning in the sun at the splash pad, park or pool. And right away you hear the question being thrown around – “Mom, I’m hungry. Can we have lunch? Is it ready yet?!”
You’re as tired as the kiddos, and don’t feel like standing over a hot stove after baking in the sun. Enter, easy lunches.
These are my go-to summer lunches for me and my boys. I feel great about them because they hit all the marks. Easy to assemble. Healthy and nourishing for our bodies. Quick to the table. And let’s not forget…delicious!
The quintessential summer meal. Throw all the things in the blender and you’ve got a healthy and cooling meal in a matter of a couple minutes.
When it comes to smoothies, I don’t really go by recipes as much as what I have on hand in my kitchen. I do, however, have a favorite protein powder (I’m looking at you Be Well By Kelly Protein – use code TAYLORDUKES).
The thing I love about smoothies is you can truly disguise almost anything in them! Greens, frozen zucchini or cauliflower, superfood powders, greens powders…It’s the easiest way for me to give all the good stuff to my boys without them really even noticing!
If you’re looking for some delicious recipes to follow or simply to inspire, here’s a fun resource: 10 Healthy Smoothies for Kids
One of the easiest throw-together lunches has to be the tuna salad! It’s a nourishing meal without being overly heavy. Plus, you get the great benefits of all those Omega 3’s from the fish!
Serve the salad alongside your favorite crackers – Simple Mills, Hu Kitchen, Mary’s Gone Crackers and Flackers are all great options. Add some raw, cut-up veggies such as carrots, celery, cucumber or pepper. You’ve got a five-minute meal!
These are a total hit with any kid! But let’s be honest, what adult doesn’t love a good snack tray, too?! Think charcuterie, but a little less fancy.
If your kids are older, you can throw everything on a big tray and let them create their own meals. If your kids are younger, serving the food items in little muffin trays makes for a fun and novel “presentation.”
When it comes to the food, don’t worry about getting fancy! Just throw a bunch of healthy options out there! Here are some of my kids (and my own!) favorites:
Make a huge batch at the beginning of the week and you’ve got a couple of lunches ready to go. Serve them up as simple hard-boiled eggs alongside high-quality toast (use code TAYLORDUKES). Turn them into egg salad. Get fancy and make some bacon-deviled eggs.
I love this tried and true recipe for boiling eggs according to your preferred doneness: How to Make Hard Boiled Eggs.
Three-ingredient paleo pancakes make breakfast-for-lunch the EASIEST option out there. If you have a banana and some eggs, you’re good to go!
Top the pancakes with nut butter, raw honey, coconut whipped cream, unsweetened coconut flakes, cacao nibs, berries, banana slices, grass-fed butter, DIY chia seed jam, or anything else that strikes your fancy. If you want to be super fun, let the kids choose their own toppings!
Fast, easy, and fun. Yogurt bowls hit all the marks when it comes to my summertime easy lunch list of requirements.
My one suggestion is to start with a high-quality unflavored yogurt as the base. No need to choose a yogurt that has tons of added sugars or extra ingredients. You can add the fun on top or mix it in yourself instead! Every bit is delicious and much better for your body.
You can choose a non-dairy yogurt like Cocoyo, Coco June, Coconut Cult, or Culina. Or you can go with a high-quality grass-fed Greek or whole-fat yogurt if you tolerate dairy. Then, go crazy from there!
Similarly to your paleo pancake toppings, you can top your yogurt bowl with all the fun: raw honey, unsweetened coconut flakes, cacao nibs, Lovebird cereal (use code TAYLORDUKES), berries, banana slices, DIY chia seed jam or anything else that sounds good to you!
One quick note on coconut yogurt… Coconut yogurt is high in healthy fats and good probiotics, but it tends to be much lower in protein than its dairy counterpart. If you’re looking to up the protein of your coconut yogurt for a meal with a little more staying power, try adding a scoop of my favorite protein (use code TAYLORDUKES) and whisking it in!
Avocado toast is a health trend worth keeping around. Another easy, fast and healthy meal. I love smashing my avocado on my all-time favorite bread – AWG Bakery (use code TAYLORDUKES). Or use another high-quality toast.
Top with poached egg, Everything But The Bagel seasoning, smoked salmon, sauerkraut, lunch meat, tomato, etc. For some fun ideas on switching up your avocado toast, let yourself be inspired by these articles:
Use last night’s grain to make you and your little one a kitchen-sink grain bowl with whatever you have on hand. I always start with some sort of a green (arugula, spinach, kale, etc.) mixed with some sort of grain (quinoa, rice, millet, couscous, etc.).
From there, you can add raw or roasted veggies and clean proteins such as leftover chicken, eggs, canned or smoked fish, or legumes. Add healthy fats like avocado, olives, pesto, nuts or seeds. Make a quick homemade dressing with extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon or apple cider vinegar. Add a dollop of hummus, guacamole, or salsa.
These bowls are the easiest because they literally require you to open your fridge and pull out whatever you have on hand. Ask your child what he would like to try in his bowl. You might be surprised at his willingness to try something new when he’s the one that initiates and adds it!
You’re typically either a “leftovers person” or not at all a “leftovers person.” I, for one, am a leftovers girl! I love reheating soup from the night before (or honestly, just eating it cold) for lunch. I’m also game for last night’s meat, roasted veggies or anything else thrown together on top of a huge salad. Deconstruct the salad for your kiddos and throw it into a Siete tortilla to make a lunch wrap. Or just serve it separately on his plate.
Consider how you might creatively serve leftovers: in a wrap, on a quesadilla, in an omelet, on a salad, in a “kitchen sink” bowl or on a sandwich. The possibilities are endless if you think outside the box. Oftentimes adding a little Primal Kitchen dressing or something like a pesto, hummus or guacamole is all the food needs to be reimagined into something delicious again!
I want to leave you with a final note on serving kiddos who are a little picky about what they eat. My encouragement is this – continue to serve a variety of healthy foods, including the ones they “don’t like.” We know that acquisition of taste can take many, many exposures for children. It’s important to not just relegate yourself to serving what you think your child likes. In doing so, you’ll likely find their palate continually being honed down to a select group of foods like crackers, plain pasta, and a few fruits.
Instead, serve the broccoli and a side salad! You don’t need to serve a mound of it. Just enough for your child to try a bite. And find creative and new ways to present it. Broccoli can be served raw with a dipping sauce. It can be roasted and seasoned. It can be “riced” and mixed into a whole bunch of different things! You can serve it in tiny pieces or bigger pieces. The whole point is to continually and gently push your child to enjoy more nourishing and healthful foods! Don’t get discouraged. Just keep at it!
I hope this list leaves you feeling inspired, if not just a little more prepared for the next time you hear those little voices hungry for their lunch. Happy, healthy meal-making!
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