Now that summer has started to wind down and your children are back at school, you may be thinking to yourself: What on earth will I make them for lunch every day? How can you get yourself prepared so that it’s not so frantic to get out of the house every morning? Perhaps you want more time in the evening to spend with your child catching up on the days events and not spending time coming up with another menu idea. This is where batch cooking can come into play.
Batch cooking is a way to prepare food in greater quantities ahead of time that makes putting together lunches (and meals) easier. When you cook a meal you might only make enough to serve your family for that evening, however, if you double or triple the recipe you will have enough leftovers to create another meal (that isn’t a duplicate of the one you just prepared) without doubling the time in the kitchen. Preparing a double batch of your families roast veggies doesn’t take all that much more time in the chopping or slicing department. Adding another cup of quinoa to the pot to simmer on the stove also takes up no time except for adding the extra quinoa into the simmering saucepan.
What are some items that are easy to prepare? Let’s start with a weekly favorite of mine. A roast chicken with oven roasted vegetables. This is an easy Sunday dinner that is easy to prepare and gives you enough leftovers for one if not two different lunches. If you roast two chicken instead of the one you will have plenty to cube up and use for lunches and to make a turmeric chicken salad (or your favorite variation thereof) for the next day. Side note: You can use the roasted bones to make a healthy gut healing and supporting bone broth to be used in a soup. The roasted veggies (whatever type your family favorite is) can be piled alongside the chicken and will be done at the same time. Sides like quinoa or brown rice can also be cooked in larger quantities. Whole sweet potatoes will roast in the oven whether there are one or six. You can use the leftovers and cut the sweet potato in half for an addition to your child’s lunch box for a healthy carbohydrate (sprinkle cinnamon over the top and watch them gobble it down.)
Other easy veggies that are easy to prepare in bulk that work for other meals are: cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, cut up raw cucumbers, carrots, celery and many more. Whatever your family favorite is, chances are prepping or chopping a greater quantity will ensure that the following days will be just a bit less stressful.
Once you have batch cooked different ingredients you can put them together or keep them separate for your child’s lunch. You don’t need to pack a sandwich every day to ensure your child is getting their proper nutrition. Ensure that they are getting a balance of protein, carbohydrates (veggies and/or fruit) and healthy fats.
How to build a healthy lunch for your child:
Start with some fresh fruits and vegetables (Carbohydrates) that your child enjoys: carrots, cucumber, perhaps a sliced apple or strawberries. Prepare these ahead of time, include your child in the preparation process. Have them peel the carrots for you if they are too young to chop the vegetables. If they are too young for this have them count or arrange by color to involve them in the process of healthy eating. Store the cut vegetables in an airtight glass container in your refrigerator. You can find some here and here.
Add a protein like some cubed chicken from the roast chicken you made over the weekend or a hardboiled egg. Then add a healthy fat – a few tablespoons of hummus or a nut butter to dip the veggies in. Olives are another tasty way to add healthy fats to your child’s lunchtime routine.
Having some glass or stainless steel lunch containers to make it easy to partition foods is a good idea. Ikea has some durable glass containers of different sizes.
Create your child’s healthy lunch by choosing a few items from each section. It’s a good idea to consult the EWG (environmental working group) list of the clean fifteen and the dirty dozen to ensure you avoid potential pesticides and buy organic when necessary. Remember to always wash your fruit and vegetables before consuming.
- Natural Applesauce
- Baby Carrots
- Grape Tomatoes
- Stalk Celery
- Snap Peas
- Watermelon cubed or sliced
- Roasted vegetables (your child’s favorite) cut into cubes for easy eating
- Sweet potatoes
- Hardboiled Eggs
- Chicken that has been cubed or shredded
- Lamb Meatballs (or Beef or Pork)
- Salmon cakes with squash or zucchini
- Cheese (cheddar, feta, etc) that is cubed
- Plain yogurt with frozen fruit added in a small container (flavored yogurt has added sugar)
- Rice and beans
- Tuna salad
- Salami roll ups
- Nut Butters (sunflower seed butter, almond butter, cashew butter = Always check ingredients (look for no added sugar)
- Homemade Nut and Dried Fruit Mix (Your favorite: raw almonds, hazelnuts, almonds with dried Cherries (no added sugar), Raisins, coconut chips tossed together in a bag or glass jar.
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