Saturday, August 30, 2014

Packing a healthy real food school lunch is super simple.

*** UPDATE: I don't know why the Blogger keeps sending this post to the subscribers of this blog! I will look into it! :) Sorry about extra emails. ***

Grilled chicken, olives, pomegranate and rutabaga sticks.
No-one brings lunch to school in Finland. The lunch is provided by the public school (most children attend public school) for free - well, not free, but paid by everyone's taxes. I grew up eating warm home cooked meal type school lunches in Finnish school cafeteria: Fish soup, ground beef soup, cabbage casserole, meat sauce and potatoes, meat balls and mashed potatoes, liver casserole, spinach pancakes and blood pancakes with lingonberry preserves (yes, you read that right). You can find a lot of those recipes from my other blog Rootlicious.

Here in the US I pack my children's school lunches and snacks (I still don't get it why they would need a snack in between breakfast they've had right before school at home and school lunch, it is just a few hours and the snack just spoils the appetite for lunch in my humble opinion). I pack them mostly paleo foods and the lunch consists of a protein (meat, mushrooms or nuts or seeds), a serving of vegetables and a serving of fruit or berries. Leftovers from last night's dinner are great. For snack I add one serving of veggies, fruit or nuts.

I use a bento box type lunch box with compartments to separate the different foods. My favorites are Planet Box and Lunch Bots. They are durable stainless steel lunch boxes with compartments and they are free from plastic (which I am afraid can contain chemicals that leach in to the food). I pack the stainless steel box in an insulated lunch bag.

Cucumber slices, spinach plantain pancakes,
water melon and blackberries in a Lunch Bots.
Packing a paleo school lunch is super simple. Even your children can do it themselves and save you a lot of work. They actually can find it fun to pack their own lunch starting from chopping vegetables or fruit. Even my three year old can chop most veggies and fruit with a knife. I like to give them sharp knives instead of dull ones (in fear of them hurting themselves) because the dull knives slip easier and can hurt them too. It feels good to use a proper knife and with supervision even very small children can totally do it. I also often leave vegetables or fruit whole, they don't always need to be chopped. An apple or banana are in perfect packages as they are!

Pick one from each category below and put them in a bento box. You can of course use two or more different kinds of fruit or berries or vegetables at once.

Spinach pancakes with apple sauce and
prosciutto wrapped grilled mushrooms

Category 1: Protein
I prefer to buy organic, grass fed and sustainable and without additives.

  • Ground beef patty in lettuce wrap (fried the same morning)
  • Mushrooms wrapped in prosciutto or bacon grilled in toaster oven that morning
  • Nut butter with veggies or fruit
  • Nuts or seeds
  • Cooked/canned fish
  • Larabar
  • Epic bar
  • Cooked chicken strips (alone or with a Paleo wrap and guacamole, ground beef is nice with the wrap and guacamole too)
  • A grilled chicken drumstick
  • Lunch meat, liverwurst or fried bacon (some healthy options can be found from US Wellness Meats)
  • Cooked shrimp
  • Paleo fish sticks (click for a recipe - the same recipe can be used to make paleo chicken nuggets)
  • A boiled egg would be perfect if we didn't avoid eggs due to allergies.
  • Paleo meat balls
  • Peas
  • Green beans

TIP: Use tooth picks to pin liverwurst, lunch meat or sausage pieces together with cucumber slices

Category 2: Vegetables
I like to use seasonal veggies.

  • Spinach pancakes with apple sauce
  • Baby carrots or carrot sticks
  • Persian cucumbers (whole), or cucumber sticks or slices (a quick ranch dip can be made with coconut kefir, garlic, Herbamare, lemon, parsley)
  • Raw rutabaga or turnip sticks
  • Radishes
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Raw cauliflower florets
  • Sea weed
  • Guacamole (or is avocado technically a fruit?)
  • Olives
  • Salad
  • Pickles
  • Sauerkraut
  • Other fermented veggies

Category 3: Fruit/treat/dessert (or snack)
I like to use seasonal fruit and berries.

  • Blueberries/raspberries/blackberries/strawberries
  • A whole apple/peach/plum
  • Orange slices
  • Pieces of melon
  • A plantain pancake with Sunbutter (we use this one) or nut butter or homemade paleo "nutella" (add raw cacao powder to a nutbutter or use a recipe like this)
  • Strawberries with paleo "Nutella"
  • Apple sauce
  • Fermented apple sauce
  • Fruit salad with seasonal fruit
  • Grapes
  • Paleo muffins (Google for tons of recipes!)
  • Coconut balls (kids love to make these themselves)
  • Chocolate pudding from avocados

Remember to add an ice pack if you have packed meat. Don't forget water. We use stainless steel water bottles (we use this kind except always with a regular cap, sports caps and sippy cup caps worry me for mouth development issues). We pack a cloth napkin too. The kids can help sew those from leftover fabrics, or choose their own fabrics from the store. My son made a few spider napkins and they are his favorite. It is a nice touch to add a little love note, a joke or a fun fact for the kids who are learning to read. I make mine in our secret language, Finnish.


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  2. Thank you so much for this! I've been struggling and I'm almost embarassed to admit that I've defaulted to PB&J sandwiches with sides of fruit. I've promised a family detox over the summer, and this will help me start (and continue after school starts again!).

    1. Thanks Rachael! Glad you found it helpful - I am not sure why Blogger chose to send this two year old post out today! :) I saw you have moved (I had no idea!) so you must have had your hands full! Miss you!

  3. تكثر عمليات نقل العفش بالرياض و بالمملكة داخل المدن وخارجها نظرا ً لكثرة تنقل المواطنين بين الوظائف أو لرغبتهم في تغيير المسكن لذلك يبحث الجميع عن أفضل شركة نقل عفش داخل الرياض أو شركة نقل عفش خارج الرياض إذا كان هذا عملائنا ما تبحثون عنه نحن نقدم لكم أرقي الخدمات وبأفضل الأسعار:
    شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام
    شركة نقل اثاث بالمدينة
    شركة نقل اثاث بالطائف
    شركة نقل عفش جدة

  4. شركة فارس الخليج
    افضل شركة خدمات منزلية بالمملكة العربية السعودية
    شركة فارس الخليج شركة رسمية ذات ثقة
    تتميز شركتنا بامتلاك افضل طاقم عمل لاداء الخدمات المنزلية
    نستخدم افضل الاجهزة الموجودة.
    شركه تنظيف بعنيزة
    شركه تنظيف ببريدة
    افضل شركة رش مبيدات
    شركه رش مبيدات ببريدة
    شركه تنظيف خزانات ببريدة
    افضل شركه رش مبيدات ببريدة