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School Lunch Supplies for Real Food Kids

 

School lunch supplies for real food kids

The end of August is creeping up on us and before we know it we will all be back in school mode. Waking up early, running around to after school activities and packing school lunches. Did I just hear groans from you all?

Packing school lunches just might be the death of me. I have no idea why it is so difficult as I have to make lunches everyday anyways, but there is just something about school lunch packing that keeps me up at night! The daily task of coming up with lunch ideas and packing them is enough for any mom to call it quits and load up the lunch account at school instead. But even though the responsibility of packing lunches gets overwhelming, for the sake of my children, I do it knowing they are getting a nutritious meal rather than chicken nuggets, chocolate milk, and pizza on a daily basis from the school cafeteria.

To make it all easier on us, here are some of my favorite supplies to use:

Bentology Bento Lunch Box
I purchased these Bentology lunch boxes (formally Laptop Lunches) for my kids 3 years ago. They have held up well and I love that I can wash the containers each night reducing the use of plastic wrap and baggies. They have two containers with lids for items like yogurt, dressing or oatmeal and a handy dandy compartment to store the stainless steel utensils.

Reusable Ice Packs
I have tried many ice packs over the years and they all seem to be so awkward. If you’re tired of the bulky blue bricks that you are trying to shove between sandwiches and snacks, get these Fit & Fresh Cool Coolers Slim Lunch Ice Packs. They look promising and get great reviews by users.

Reusable Napkins
Cutting down on waste is a big goal of mine so using reusable napkins only makes sense. Try out these organic ones from Laptop Lunches.

Thermos Bottles
We have been using our thermos’ for the kids for the past 4+ years. They are probably the best purchase I’ve made when it comes to water bottles for the kids since they are still holding up well. Drinks stay surprisingly cold for the whole day and they are easy to throw in lunch bags or store on the side of backpacks. They are leak proof and won’t sweat. Check out all the colors and characters here.

Thermos Containers
When you want to keep foods hot like soups, mac and cheese or oatmeal, check out these Thermos Funtainer Food Jars. They come in a variety of colors and different characters to make any child happy.

Reusable Food Pouch
My kids love squeezy applesauce but with a hefty price tag and questionable ingredients, this year I am making my own. These Little Green Pouches get great reviews and hold a fair amount for a school age child.

Biodegradable or reusable sandwich bags
Plastic Ziploc bags might be fast and easy, but they aren’t helping the environment by throwing them away every single day. Try these washable Neat-O reusable bags for sandwiches or snacks instead. They come in regular sandwich sizes, snack sizes or gallon sizes. You can even use them for items other than food. If you must use a throw away variety for school trips or such, try these Wexy biodegradable brand, PrideGreen Recycled Materials Zip-N-Seal Bags or BioBag Sandwich Bags.

Silicone Muffin Liners
I love these Pantry Elements Silicone Baking Cups/Cupcake Liners for different purposes. Obviously I use them when baking up some muffins or cupcakes, but they also double as cups in your lunch boxes to divide different foods. They come in really fun colors and clean up easily.

Zipzicle Yogurt Sleeves
Y’all. These things are amazing! I know they technically are “disposable” and I just mentioned I am all about saving the environment and all, but hear me out. These can be washed out and reused time and time again. I used them for summer popsicles and plan to use them for making my own Go-Gurt for school lunches. While the reusable FoodWorks Silicone Molds are always an option, I found these Zipzicles were much easier for the kids to eat and store in my freezer.

Fun Toothpicks
Toothpicks are easy to find at any store and will make lunchtime more fun for your little ones when a cute little character or fuzzy ball is sticking out the top of their sandwich. Try these CUTEZCUTE Animals Food Picks and Forks.

Cookie Cutters
Nothing says love to a child like a sandwich in the shape of a dinosaur, bear or heart. There is just something about it that kids love! Try any of these sandwich cookie cutters to spice up their lunchbox.

Hopefully these tools will make packing lunch a little easier and fun this year for you and your kiddos!

Do you have any favorite products for your kids lunch boxes? I’d love to hear!

Until next time, keep it real.

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Chickpea “Tuna” Salad

Real_Food_Life_Chickpea_Tuna_Salad

Depending on what kind you buy, tuna can be unethical, and dangerous to eat. Like many other fish, tuna contains mercury, which is toxic to humans. The FDA recommends limiting the amount you eat, especially if you’re pregnant. It’s environmental impact can be quite disturbing as well. If fished improperly, large amounts of bycatch result in capturing and discarding a staggering volume of non-targeted marine life.

However, there is always a yummy real food alternative! Chickpea “tuna” salad uses delicious, healthy chickpeas (garbanzo beans) instead of tuna mixed with chopped veggies. The nori sheet introduces a seafood-like flavor reminiscent of true canned tuna and can be found in any well stocked grocery store.

This recipe is based on one that I had during a PAN Vegan Pledge meeting in which I volunteered as a mentor. PAN pairs up pledges with mentors to help them transition to a vegan diet while providing tips, recipes and support during the month long experience. Pledge groups are popping up in several cities if you are interested in checking it out.

Side note: There are still many processed vegan food choices, so always read labels. This is why I predominantly promote a real food, plant-based diet. Now for that recipe…

chickpea-tuna-salad

Chickpea "Tuna" Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Lunch
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 can of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans-I like Eden Organic brand. No salt, BPA free cans)
  • 1 sheet nori (sushi seaweed sheet)
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • ¼ onion, finely diced
  • ¼-1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used Veganaise for a quick alternative-not a perfect choice-but try making your own mayo with this recipe)
  • ½ tsp spicy mustard (or Dijon works fine too)
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ¼-1/2 cup purple cabbage (optional)
  • Handful of parsley, chopped (optional)
  • Red bell pepper, finely diced (optional)
Instructions
  1. Drain and rinse beans.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and mash with a potato masher or pulse in a food processor. Leave some larger chunks of chickpeas for texture.
  3. Crumble and tear nori sheet into small pieces and add to the beans.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and stir together.
  5. Serve with whole grain crackers, on a sandwich using Ezekiel bread or inside lettuce cups. Enjoy!
  6. Tip: If you own a Vitamix, wet chop all your veggies and this will come together in a flash.

chickpea-tuna-salad-2If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and tag us @realfood_life or hashtag it #realfoodlife. I’d love to see what you make!

Until next time, keep it real.