Back-to-school season is upon us! Time to break out the new school supplies and get back into the regular school year routine. During this busy time of year, healthy homemade meals can take a hit. Families are adjusting to new schedules and it can be challenging to always eat breakfast before heading out the door for school, pack healthy lunchboxes, curb after-school cravings before soccer practice or get a home-cooked meal on the table in the evening.
Four years ago, at Produce for Kids, we decided to start the Power Your Lunchbox Pledge to help parents pack healthy lunchboxes with ease. We pulled together lunchbox-friendly recipes that were easy to assemble, could be prepped ahead of time, or were a healthier spin on store-bought boxed lunches. We encouraged families to start the school year off right by taking the Power Your Lunchbox Pledge to eat a healthier lunch.
For every pledge taken, a collective $1 is donated by our partners to Feeding America. Since we launched four years ago, over 60,000 families and classrooms have taken the pledge helping us donate nearly 600,000 meals to families in need through Feeding America.
These are some of our favorite ways to add more fruits and veggies to the lunchbox:
- Add chopped veggies to soups or chili – Any veggie, like onions, bell peppers, celery, tomatoes or corn, are great additions to soup or chili recipes. And you can always add more than the recipe requires. This Alphabet Vegetable Soup or Turkey & Kale Chili are both tasty options for a thermos in the lunchbox.
- Sauce it up – Finely chop onions, peppers, carrots, mushrooms or spinach and add to pasta sauce. Serve over your favorite pasta or veggie noodles in a thermos for a delicious lunch.
- Switch up regular PB&J – Instead of jelly, use fresh fruit in your PB&J, like these PB Fruit Roll-ups! Sliced bananas, strawberries, kiwi, or grapes make perfect jelly substitutes.
- Turn it into a kebob – Turn regular sandwiches into these fun Sandwich Skewers and add your kid’s favorites, like cherry tomatoes, lettuce, or cucumbers.
- Blend into baked goods – Both fruit and veggies can easily be blended into muffins or other baked goods for an extra dose of nutrition. These Apple Zucchini Mini Muffins will be a hit in lunchboxes.
- Swap out mayo – Skip the mayo on sandwiches and use mashed avocado instead. Or swap out mayo in egg, chicken or tuna salad for avocado, like in this Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich.
- Rethink Pasta & Rice – Spiralized veggies, like this Caprese Zoodle Salad, or cauliflower rice are great alternatives to pastas and rice and a great way to sneak in some extra veggies.
- Stuff ‘em – Handheld dishes, like these Lunchbox Empanadas or Freezable Pizza Pockets are not only easy to eat, but easy to add fruits and veggies to.
- Use a muffin tin – There’s something about food in the shape of a muffin that kids love. Break out the muffin tin and get your kids in the kitchen to help prepare these savory Chicken & Rice Muffins, Mac n Cheese Muffins or Wonton Taco Cups, all made with veggies!
- Flavor your own yogurt – Most flavored yogurts come with added sugars. Make your own by mixing plain yogurt and your favorite fruit (adding a touch of honey if needed), like this Coconut Orange Dream.