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Six “No Cooking” Foods for Your Kids Lunch

This is a day in the life of Stella's school lunch.  For those of you who have not gotten to know me yet, Stella, my daughter will be three in November.  She was given real unprocessed foods from the start and today, while she will get some processed or pre-packaged foods, her first choice usually looks like this.  Her lunch comes home empty almost every day.

This is a day in the life of Stella's school lunch.  For those of you who have not gotten to know me yet, Stella, my daughter will be three in November.  She was given real unprocessed foods from the start and today, while she will get some processed or pre-packaged foods, her first choice usually looks like this.  Her lunch comes home empty almost every day.

You’ve heard K.I.S.S., right?  Well, here is my version… K.I.S.4.K… Keep It Simple 4 Kids.  But, also keep it mostly Clean.  We are so bombarded by processed foods and mass marketing telling us (and our kids) that children won’t eat real food so therefor we should feed them chemical-filled CRAP. 

Once we start giving our kids those foods on a regular basis their taste buds start to change, it becomes harder for them to taste Clean food and more challenging for parents to help their kids make better choices.  

Ever tried the 21-Day Sugar Detox, or just taken processed foods out of your diet?  By day 5, you are all of the sudden able to taste how truly sweet a bell pepper is.  Your palate readjusts, you are able to taste the awesomeness of Clean food, sugar becomes too sweet and processed foods don’t taste so good.  The same thing applies to all humans, even little ones.  

It is so easy to open a package of something when your kid is screaming next to you; I’ve done this for sure.  However, with a little planning and some Clean ideas, you can have options ready that are Clean, easy and delicious.

So let’s get super basic with "no cooking required" options that pack a punch for littles.  My strategy is to prep these items so that there are 2 to 3 days’ worth of lunch/snack items ready in the fridge/freezer.  I wash, slice and put them in medium size containers and refill my daughters’ lunch box (check out LunchBots) or snack container every 2-3 days; basically twice a week. 

TIP: Let your child take ownership of their food.  These items are fast and delicious, but also allow your child to make choices and have a say in what they are going to eat.  If your child is old enough, let them help with washing, putting food into containers and cutting.

Six “No Cooking” Foods for Your Kids Lunch

Healthy Clean pre-prepared lunch options for kids.  Stella could help but reach in as I was taking photos.

Healthy Clean pre-prepared lunch options for kids.  Stella could help but reach in as I was taking photos.

1.  DICED CHEESE: Get away from faux cheese.  Try small blocks of Havarti Dill, Mild Cheddar, Cotswold’s, or Mozzarella; buy two flavors a week for some variety.  Most grocery stores have a cheese department.  Look for whole-fat blocks of cheese, not pre-shredded or individually packaged cheeses.  Dice into square bite-size pieces, store in a medium container and portion out over 2-3 days. 

2.  DICED LUNCH MEAT:  Genius!  Go to your meat counter and order 2 slices ¼” thick of your child’s favorite meat (This should be about .5 LB of meat and will last 2-3 days).  The deli people will look at you funny, but you can dice these up and have fun yummy protein for your littles without any cooking.  Change it up too, buy two different meats each week.

TIPS: If you can find options that do not have additives or sugar those are always better, but either way, this is a great way to get your little ones to eat protein.  Meats labeled “natural” or “organic” should be chemical free, but may still contain sugar.  Ask your deli counter for a list of ingredients.

3.  CHERRY TOMATOES:  Duh, right?  Here in Oregon, the organic ones vs non-organic do not vary much in price.  Slice these babies in half, put in a medium container and store in the fridge.

4.  FRESH FRUIT: I know, why am I telling you this?  I see too many fruit cups at my daughters' school and it makes me sad.  Buy berries, grapes or other fruit that you can wash, slice and store in the fridge for 2-3 days without it turning brown. 

5.  FROZEN PEAS:  Whoever discovered that kids LOVE these things is my hero.  A friend introduced us to the frozen pea phenomena a little over a year ago and it is almost a daily dish in our house.   Green, sweet and delicious, kids love these things.  Also, if you send your kids to school/daycare with a lunch, they will help keep food cold until it is lunchtime.  Whenever there is a sale on organic frozen peas, I stock up.  It is perfect!

6.  FROZEN FRUIT: Another insanely intelligent option.  The preferred fruit is frozen blueberries or blackberries in our house, you can buy them frozen, or buy in bulk when in season and freeze yourself.  Raspberries, strawberries and mangos are also huge hits.

Frozen Blackberries and Peas in LunchBots Containers

Frozen Blackberries and Peas in LunchBots Containers

One of things I love about these foods, is that I will eat them too.  I may cook the peas, or use the frozen berries for baking, but the fact is, I’m feeding my daughter food that is Clean and universally consumed in our house. 

Add these items to your shopping list and start making your days a little bit easier while still giving your little ones Clean and delicious food.