When it comes to building kids lunches, protein is arguably the most important component. Protein keeps you full and satisfied, provides all the essential amino acids, and supports blood sugar balance.
Here are few ways I ensure my kids get their protein in and make it more enjoyable for them, plus some of my most trusted brands to feed my family.
My Favorite Protein Sources
I would say that over 50% of the time, the protein source for my boys lunch is leftovers from the night before which usually consists of sliced steak, chicken curry, meatballs, or burger patties. I got in the habit of making extra of whatever we were eating for dinner so that when I put my leftovers away I can add some directly into the stainless container from Planet Box for Bashy's lunch. Leftovers save time in the morning and help us from wasting food, so it's a win-win.
Other times, I do a small batch of cooking specifically for lunches to prep for the week ahead. My two go-to's are:
- Baked and chilled chicken: Served with Whole Foods 365 hummus or guacamole for healthy fats, or Primal Kitchen Foods BBQ or ranch. Primal Kitchen Foods condiments are a great way to dress up your kids plate with high-quality ingredients that make mealtime easy and delicious.
- Tolerant Foods lentil pasta: Served with Primal Kitchen no dairy pasta sauces or meat sauce. Lentil pasta is a great plant-based protein that is also high in fiber. Tolerant Foods is certified organic, vegan, gluten free, non-GMO, free from major allergens and school safe. Check out my fab four pesto pasta bento box that I served Bash for back to school.
If I need to make something quick the morning of, I rely on these:
Teton Waters Ranch Grass Fed Beef original sausages (not spicy for the boys, but I love that one). Pop them in the toaster oven at 365 degrees for 10 minutes and they are ready to go. My boys like them with a side of Primal Kitchen sugar-free ketchup.
Fork in the Road Foods lil smokies or hot dogs cut in half length wise to avoid a chocking hazard, and served up with sugar-free ketchup or mustard. Fork in the Road Foods are nitrite and nitrate free, sustainably raised animals, fed a vegetarian diet and are never confined in crates or given antibiotics, growth enhancers, or added hormones.
When it comes to lunchtime, convenience and preparation is the best way to ensure you have a complete meal ready for your kids. I like to stock up on protein sources with a long shelf life that can easily be included in meals without much effort.
- Wild Planet Foods canned fish such as sockeye salmon, which is highest in omega 3's, or skip jack tuna, which is lowest in mercury can be easily be turned into a tuna salad. Mix them with olive oil or Primal Kitchen mayo and serve with crackers or as a sandwich.
- Serenity Kids meat pouches make it easy to get protein, fats, and fiber in using clean, whole foods. With a variety of flavors to choose from, they make a great option for toddlers going to day care or pre-school.
- Eggs are a great source of protein and healthy fats. Make them hard boiled and slice them in half, or turn them into an egg salad with Primal Kitchen mayo, or as a breakfast burrito wrapped in Siete Foods grain-free tortillas.
- True Story Foods or Apple Gate turkey and salami slices wrapped around a slice of avocado or cheddar cheese can be thrown together in under five minutes for a great source of protein and healthy fats. Check out my turkey roll up bento box recipe for a complete Fab Four school lunch idea.
- Chomps mini beef sticks or Thrive Market beef sticks are a convenient way to get extra protein into your kids lunch box.
- Go Raw pumpkin seed packs for those who need a nut-free option, or you can add in a tablespoon of Wild Friends nut butters paired with sliced apples, celery, or crackers.
- Cheese sticks, cottage cheese, or Greek/sheep yogurt are all great options to get in extra protein for kids without a dairy-intolerance. If you want something fun, Snow Days has grain-free, organic cheese pizza bites that are great too.
Prioritizing protein at lunch time is especially important for kids to support proper brain function, energy levels, and to avoid an afternoon crash. Once you've got your protein of choice, it's time to dress it up with fat, fiber and greens for a complete Fab 4 meal!