Healthy Back To School Made Easy

Healthy Lunches Made Easy

Posted on Aug 31, 2019 by Jack McCann
Tags: MealPlans Newsletter

Despite our crazy busy life, we have managed to send our kids with a healthy school lunch every day. This isn't because we're some sort of super-lunch-parents spending hours making pinterest post-able lunches - quite the opposite!

Easy lunches comes down to:

  1. Planning ahead
  2. Having the right tools
  3. Being efficient

Anyone can have a healthy lunch for their kids! Your kids will be healthier, feel better and maybe you'll even eat better lunches too!

My goal is to make sure that I make an extra lunch each day for myself so that I get healthier too!

Not So healthy, But Fun!

A side note before we get to lunches -- just because...

Betsy's mother always made fresh cookies for them on the first day of school. Here's a great recipe for you to start that tradition in your family.

Plan Ahead For Healthy Lunches

By planning ahead you'll get the following benefits:

  1. Save time and stress
  2. Produce keeps fresh longner
  3. Kids will enjoy eating their veggies and fruit

Prep the produce

Before you put the groceries away, get all of your produce and organize it.

This keeps the veggies and fruit fresh and tasty all week. You'll never want to sort through the strawberry box to clean off bad spots while rushing to get kids onto the bus and the kids won't want to eat it if the produce has gone half bad due to a lack of prep-work.

Berries and grapes

  • Remove stems or greens
  • Cut out any slight bruises on larger berries, otherwise avoid cutting
  • Separate any with small blemishes to be used first (just put on top of container)
  • Wash and put into the fridge ready to use (use their original containers with good air flow)

Veggies (cucumber, carrot, peppers, etc)

  • Pre-cut and wash
  • Store with a small amount of water in the container, can be fully sealed or small amount of air flow.
  • Cucumbers: only cut about 3 days worth and avoid coldest part of the fridge

Apples or pears

  • Cut the morning of and keep in as large of pieces possible
  • Put the cut side down so it touches the bottom of the stainless steel lunch box - this keeps it from browning. If you must cut more sides to make it fit, snug them up to the edge

Have the right food around

Keeping some hard boiled eggs in the fridge or having extra frozen deli meat on hand ensures you'll always have the right food available.

Did you know all of our 'uncured' deli meat can stay in the fridge for 30-45 days if the package is still sealed?

Just keep a pack or two in the back of your fridge so it is always ready to use.

None of our deli items have any of the binders, phosphates or other chemicals used to boost fat and water content in the grocery store meat. We don't use the growth drugs that are used in the deli meats found at even the fanciest natural food coop -- ask your store to verify with the manufacture if their products use ractopamine or not (hint, if it is turkey, beef or pork, it is almost certainly used)

These ingredients or drugs are often NOT on the label so unless it is certified organic, you should assume they are in their products.

If you want healthy, safe lunch meat, we're the best in town - and it is SO convenient to just have it in your freezer or fridge ready to go.

Here are some of our kids' favorites and that amazing sourdough made with organic non-hybrid wheat.

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Just Hot Dogs

5.25 lbs avg

Box 156

The best hot dogs in the world!

  • 5 packs of the healthiest hotdogs for you and your kids!

We often are able to add beef or pork liver into these hotdogs to add some extra nurients
"Uncured" items which are still sealed can be safely stored in the fridge to save freezer space. See details here

This is a flat rate box and is priced per box.

Lunch Meat Sampler

3.9 lbs avg

Box 164

Great for lunches, picnics or snacking

Each order has four packs of deli meats from the following selection: 
  • Pepperoni 
  • Sliced emulsified ham  (some packs won't have this item)
  • Sliced rustic ham
  • Euro style bologna 

Emulsified ham is great for kids. It is an emulsified deli ham (officially called a pork roll) without any fatty parts like a traditional ham roast would have.

This is a flat rate box and is priced per box. They are labeled as the minimum weight, most boxes weigh more.

Just Sliced Ham

5.25 lbs avg

Box 167

Our famous deli ham

  • 5 packs of sliced rustic ham (~1lb each) 

This is a flat rate box and is priced per box.

Just Pepperoni

4.1 lbs avg

Box 173

So excited to have pepperoni I could feel good about enjoying!

  • 5 pack of pepperoni, small pre-sliced packs

Flat rate box, weight will vary between 3.75 - 4.5 pounds

Our kids love this as a cold cut and it is great in a pasta or egg scramble too! Oh -- and our simple GF Pizza Potato Recipe is awesome

Just Summer Sausage

5.25 lbs avg

Box 174

This is one of our best and most popular sausages

  • Beef/pork summer sausage

Flat rate box labeled at the minimum weight of 5lbs

We try to include a mix of deli sliced or non-sliced

"Uncured" items which are still sealed can be safely stored in the fridge to save freezer space. See details here

Sweet Almond Croissants

1.2 lbs avg

Box 831

You have to try these

Four large organic almond croissants.

After trying the conventional version, we begged Travis at backwards bread to make TC Farm an organic option!

We're using Tierra Farm almonds blended by hand and all organic ingredients.  These are totally worth it. 

We tried to figure out ways we could lower the cost on all of our organic pastries - but: that's why nobody else makes them.

We already make all our own treats at home with 100% organic ingredients. So if we were going to offer our members treats, we wanted to feel good knowing that they would be organic too!

What about sugar?

If you feel your kids won't eat anything if it doesn't have some sugar or processed carbs in it (i.e. granola bars or treats), that is a challenge.

We have found there are times when we have to re-program the kids' tastes and get them 100% off sugar for a while. No syrup on pancakes - nothing.

Although it might take a month, it really helps reset their taste buds' expectations.

Here are some key benefits you'll notice once you slog through those first few weeks:

  • Happier kids = happier parents: They'll have more energy since their mind isn't expecting the dopamine boost that suger has been giving them.
  • Better focus - The up and down of sugar really affects their little bodies ability to focus at school and have enough energy to get through the day
  • Better eaters - Once their bodies aren't expecting sugar, all the other food tastes better. Those cherry tomatoes taste SWEET again.

Dried Fruit

Instead of granola bars, juice drinks, or cookies, offer some dried fruit for snacks or the 'dessert' at lunch. You'll be amazed at how well a handful of dried pineapple or mango will go. Even some higher quality raisins can be a huge treat.

Offering higher quality ingredients will teach your kids to enjoy whole foods and eschew the unhealthy processed stuff.

The Right Tools

Look - if you don't have the right tools, this just isn't going to work.

The right tool makes providing a healthy lunch much more realistic.

Reusable Lunch Containers & Bags

Having high quality lunch and snack containers will give you a lifetime of avoiding wasteful plastic bags and paper items.

We love the items featured in our 'No More Paper Or Plastic' article

They are all easy to throw in the dishwasher.

We just have one extra set for each kid so that we never have to rush and wash things by hand.

Key Items

  • Insulated containers for warm foods
  • Silicone bags for snacks or sandwiches
  • Stainless lunch boxes
  • Silicone muffin cups for a colorful look and easy clean up

Click the link or the image to see our recommendations.

Sharp Knives

Having a sharp knife is critical to getting the prep-work done fast.

I hadn't kept up with my knife sharpening because I was lazy, but yesterday I went through all of our knives and sharpened them so we were ready for school.

Then I cut through 2 pounds of strawberries - I was just shocked at how much easier and faster it was.

Hones are NOT sharpeners. If you think you have a sharpener, but it is long and pointy, it is NOT sharpening your knife.

If you want any chance of keeping up with prep-work for school lunches or want to enjoy cooking, you NEED a sharpener.

Click the link or image and get a real knife sharpener.


One other helpful tool is to use shelf liner under your cutting board so the board doesn't slip.

Being Effecient

Don't think that all your meals need to be some fancy Food TV or instagramable moment - Go for simple and fast with high quality ingredients!

Once you plan ahead and have the right tools and food on-hand, you can be super efficient with your time.

I can't tell you how much time it saves to have those veggies pre-cutup - no waste and we can quickly throw the lunches together.

Thinking about what meals to cook for the week that will make good leftover lunches helps a lot too!

Think of meals you can cook which will make good leftovers for lunches.

Here are some ideas:

  • Mac and cheese
  • Regu pasta
  • Pizza (use our heritage sourdough crusts)
  • Egg salad sandwiches (hard boil eggs and mix with aioli)
  • Tortilla rollups with cream cheese, deli meat and/or our pulled pork
  • Smoothies
  • Thai Pasta

For the foods best warm, use the insulated containers we recommended above - just warm up in the morning and they'll be tasty at lunch time!

Check out our recipe and meal plan sections of the website for some inspiration.

We will be suspending our weekly meal planning for a bit while we focus on some other content and areas to improve.

But look for new meal planning posts soon!

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