Inside: Healthy lunch ideas for busy families, plus our favorite tried-and-true containers. For dinner ideas, check out 25+ Quick, Healthy Meals.
Does it stick out its tongue, cross its eyes and dare you to go beyond PB&J sandwiches? No fear, brave friend, this post is for you! Here’s a sneak peek into what I’ll be packing for my littles this year.
Lunch Meat & Beyond
- Homemade three-ingredient beef jerky
- Grain-free chicken nuggets (pictured above) with homemade bbq sauce, ketchup, ranch dressing or honey mustard
- Bacon and egg cups
- Easy chicken salad with apples (A great way to use leftover roast chicken)
- Smoked salmon dip (Combines brain building omega 3’s and healthy fats to keep kids – or their parents – full all day long)
- Easy apple sandwiches with chicken & bacon (pictured below)
- Hard-boiled eggs
- For sandwiches, this paleo bread recipe works beautifully
Quick & Easy Options
While I usually cook from scratch, there are times when keeping my sanity dictates tossing a few convenience items into my cart. Here’s what I buy:
- Grass-Fed Beef, Habanero & Cherry EPIC Bar
- Wild Salmon & Smoked Maple EPIC Bar
- Grass-Fed Venison, Sea salt & Pepper EPIC Bar
- Grass-Fed Lamb, Currant & Mint EPIC Bar
- PaleoValley grass-fed beef sticks – These are so delicious! I personally like the jalapeno flavor, but my kids prefer the original and summer sausage flavors.
- Organic hot dogs (To be cut up and served with quick homemade ketchup or mustard.)
- Organic deli meat (Preferably without carrageenan)
Leftovers that make good lunches
- Paleo pizza rolls from The Urban Poser
- Pinwheels made with smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers and these paleo tortillas (pictured above)
- Or these avocado salmon wraps from Health, Home & Happiness
- Lettuce wraps (here are twelve to choose from
- Sliced veggies (carrots, cucumbers, celery, etc.) with homemade ranch dressing or guacamole
- Chopped Mexican avocado salad (Warning: This stuff is addictive)
- Fermented dilly sticks from The Nourishing Gourmet – Quick and inexpensive to make, these fermented carrot sticks have a crunchy texture and a slight dill flavor. The potami love them.
- Broccoli grape slaw
- Homemade pickles from Fermented Food Lab
- Bubbies naturally fermented pickles
- Sea Snax – It’s a sea vegetable, so it counts! Seaweed is a great alternative to chips, and it’s rich in minerals such as iodine, calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, copper and selenium.Unfortunately most seaweed snacks are made with canola or safflower oil. Safflower I don’t have a big problem with, but companies often switch between the two depending on what’s cheapest so you never know what you’re going to get. Fortunately, I recently discovered these mineral rich from Sea Snax that use olive oil instead. (Also, they test radiation and the last time I checked with them there were no detectable levels.)
Energy Bars, Granola & Such
- Trail mix poppers (Guest recipe from Naturally Loriel)
- Apples with a nut-free butter such as sunflower (I buy this brand locally and it’s good, but this one is more affordable if you’re shopping online)
- Pumpkin spice granola from Fed + Fit
- Strawberry coconut granola from Everyday Maven
- Chewy granola bars from The Paleo Mom
- Yogurt with nut-free granola or fruit mixed in
- Paleo maple granola (Guest recipe from Ditch The Wheat)
- Cherry Pie Energy Bars
- Maca energy bars
- Pumpkin spice granola (Guest recipe from The Savory Lotus)
- Yogurt with granola or fruit mixed in
Primal Kitchen makes several protein bars that incorporate grass-fed gelatin. They’re not super sweet like most bars, which I prefer. The coconut cashew bar is my favorite.
These really deserve their own category. Gelatin is rich in nutrients that studies suggest may make skin look more youthful, support digestion and improve sleep, among many other things. They also happen to be delicious and easily packed. Here are a few of my favorite recipes:
- Strawberry cream gummy snacks
- Orange creamsicle vitamin C gummy snacks
- Lemon jello
- Creamsicle gelatin cups
- Sour gummy snacks
For The Thermos
- Paleo chicken “tortilla” soup
- Coconut lime chicken curry soup
- Dairy-free shrimp chowder
- Instant Pot chicken soup
Sweets & Treats
If nuts are a-okay . .
Here are a few of my favorite recipes.
- Resistant starch cookie dough balls
- Lemon poppyseed muffins
- Chewy cinnamon raisin cookies (These freeze really well, so I usually make a double batch and store them in the freezer until they’re needed)
- Paleo chocolate chip cookies
- Strawberry shortcake biscuits (I often use a different, seasonally available fruit as a topping)
- Strawberry streusel muffins
- Gingerbread cookies
- Sweet and salty almond butter cups (I only allow the potami to have small amounts of chocolate, so this is a rare treat)
- Homemade marshmallows
- Butter pecan cookies
So, I wasn’t quite sure where to put these, but as I mentioned in 15 Ways To Be Kind To Your Adrenals, carb cycling can help support normal cortisol/melatonin rhythms. For that reason, we start with a high protein breakfast that includes a small amount of carbs, followed by a larger portion of carbs at lunch and a little larger portion at dinner. When we’re on-the-go, my favorite recipes are:
We’ve been using Lunchbot Duos (with two compartments) and Trios (with three compartments) for years and love them. Random stuff that won’t fit in the Lunchbots usually gets tucked into a reusable snack bag like this one.
Need help making REAL food work in REAL life?
Then I’d love to give you a free copy of The Busy Mama’s Guide To Getting Dinner On The Table as a gift for signing up for my newsletter. You’ll get my top seven tips for simplifying meal prep, plus updates when I post new healthy recipes, exclusive gifts, coupons (I was able to give away a jar of free coconut oil to anyone who wanted it recently!), and other goodies. Don’t miss out!