Most elementary-age kids are ready and able to help in the kitchen and make their own meals—but they do need ideas and some guidance.
With a few go-to recipes in rotation, you can keep simple ingredients on hand (staples like peanut butter, tortillas, and ranch dressing will never let you down!) and teach your kids to make fun and flavorful combinations. Bonus: It seems like kids are more invested in eating something they made themselves, so even your picky eaters can feel more inspired to clean their plates.
Here are some healthy, creative lunches that even little kids can make themselves.
- Open-face waffle "pizzas." Waffles don’t have to be for breakfast—they’re a sturdy, easy base for adding all kinds of delicious toppings that make for a quick and healthy lunch. Start with a frozen toaster waffle, toast it, then spread with peanut butter. Have a variety of toppings to choose from, like toasted coconut, raisins, sliced bananas and strawberries, even a few chocolate chips. Have your kids get creative and build one just the way they like it.
- Turkey ranch wraps. When it comes to making lunch more kid-friendly, “just add ranch” is a pretty good rule to live by. These colorful and tasty finger sandwiches call for just four inexpensive ingredients: sliced turkey, tortillas, tomatoes, and peppers. Just slice up the veggies for them and let them assemble and roll the rest, slicing the rolls into pinwheels they can eat with their fingers.
- DIY “Lunchables.” Take the fun idea of finger foods in a tray and let your child run with it—guaranteed they’ll come up with healthier and more playful combinations than plain old cheese and crackers. Provide choices like berries, cheese cubes, smoked almonds, grapes, cherry tomatoes, toasted pumpkin seeds, mini sausages, meatballs, sliced hot dogs, whole grain chips, baby carrots, and more—see what amazing combinations they make. Don’t have a sectioned lunch box? Just use an old ice cube tray and let them fill each section with something delicious.
- English muffin pizzas. They’ll need an adult to help with the toaster oven or oven, but kids can assemble these in a hot minute. Start with a split English muffin, open-faced on a baking sheet, and add tomato or pizza sauce, shredded cheese, and their choice of toppings—bits of bacon or ham, pepperoni, olives, green peppers.
- Salad pockets. A piece of pita bread cut in half becomes empty little boats full of possibility! Have your child stuff them with diced lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, peppers, and the cheese of their choice, and drizzle with a kid-friendly dressing. Hint: You can prepare ready-to-eat veggies in advance and keep in a container in the fridge for building all kinds of lunch options.
At Bravo Supermarkets, we believe that food is at the heart of the family and teaching kids to make healthy meals for themselves is a huge step in fostering a healthy lifestyle. Follow us for more kid-friendly recipes and tips.