Coming up with school lunch ideas throughout the week can be tricky enough. But when you throw in a few diet restrictions – like Whole30’s zero tolerance of grains, dairy, or added sugar – it can feel downright overwhelming.
And yes, your entire family can do Whole30. Kids included. Surprised? If you have kids, one of the best things you can do is put them on Whole30 with you. Here’s why…
Why every kid needs Whole30
Ever heard a kid at the park wailing for ice cream? Or in the grocery store, whining for cookies? Many kids are accustomed to eating an assortment of sweets even before they begin grade school. A hyperactive sweet tooth and an emotional rebellion for that sugary thing is normal. But it doesn’t have to be.
Ultimately, Whole30 is about food freedom. And your kids can participate.
What does food freedom mean? It means freedom from cravings and choices that you make out of habit, because you feel stuck, or because you need a hug. It means listening to the messages your body gives after eating. For example, do you feel good or not so good after eating a specific food? Are you going to suffer from a complete meltdown if you don’t have a certain food…NOW?
Food impacts the body on a physical and an emotional level. The ability to connect what you eat with how you feel often isn’t made until adulthood. If ever. But that doesn’t mean your kid can’t understand how certain foods feel in the body.
By the time your child is 3 years old, the dynamic of cause and effect is in full swing. Which means you can begin talking about food and what it does in the body.
When doing Whole30 with your kid, you won’t be able to control snacks the teacher offers at school. Or keep your kid from eating “off limit” foods while you’re not around. But you can control breakfast, dinner, and what you pack in his lunchbox.
And really – if food freedom is the goal (and it is), Whole30 is less about enforcing food rules and more about the all-important lesson that what you eat matters.
Whole30 school lunch ideas
While Whole30 does have guidelines on portion sizes for each meal, you can simplify things by starting with protein (like meat or eggs) and filling up the rest of your kid’s lunchbox with plant-based foods like veggies, and fresh fruit.
When offering veggies, stick to what you know your kid loves. Maybe it’s roasted carrots, charred broccoli, or some almond butter sandwiched between two cucumber slices. And when offering fruit, see if you can shop for fruit that’s local, in season, and organic. Even better, let your kid shop with you and pick out which fruit and veggies go into his lunchbox.
Typically, your protein will be full of high-quality fats. But if you want to add more for good measure, try coconut flakes and use a variety of fats oils when cooking and for food prep. They all have their own unique nutritional profile of fatty acids and vitamins. For example, did you know that duck fat is a source of choline or lard from pasture raised pigs contains vitamin D?
Here are some more Whole30-compliant school lunch ideas that work as snack too, since little ones generally need to eat more often:
Fat – Olives, avocado or a simple guacamole, seed and nut butters, coconut flakes
Save time in the kitchen
When you can, save time and energy by preparing your kid’s school lunch the night before during dinner cleanup. Usually, leftovers are always a good idea. If it was a dinner success, you can be sure your kid will eat the same food for lunch the next day. And bonus: Leftovers make for easy prep.
If using leftovers, jazz it up so that lunch feels special. Put food on wooden picks, use cookie cutters and make fun shapes, add something fresh, and pack it each item in its own section using a bento box.
What are your favorite school lunch ideas?
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