This school year may look pretty different but whether your kids will be doing in-person, remote or hybrid learning, one thing remains the same: they still need to eat lunch! We know just how tough it can be to dream up new school lunch ideas every day, so the team at Bitesize Pediatric Dentistry is here to help. Of course, being that we’re a Brooklyn pediatric dentist, we’re putting a smile-friendly spin on things with school lunch ideas that contain foods that strengthen teeth.
1. A Chicken Salad Extravaganza
Pair a chicken salad sandwich on a whole wheat roll with low-fat milk, a banana and a small side salad to hit all of the major food groups. This is also one of our favorite meal prep ideas for school lunches because you can make a big batch of chicken salad that will last for several days. To keep the green salad fresh for longer, serve the dressing on the side. Experiment with some of these healthy chicken salad recipes to up the nutrition level. Chicken contains protein and phosphorus and the milk and leafy greens have calcium, making these excellent foods for healthy teeth.
2. Hummus and Veggie Wraps
Wraps are fast lunches for kids. SImply cut up a bunch of veggies on a Sunday and portion out ingredients into containers for the week. To keep the wraps from getting soggy, add the ingredients to the wrap the night before or in the morning. For a super smile-friendly wrap, use a whole wheat tortilla and smear it with hummus. Top it with a handful of fresh spinach, diced veggies like cucumbers, tomato and avocado, and a sprinkling of feta, or the cheese of your child’s choosing. For more protein, you could add chopped up hard boiled eggs or shredded turkey or chicken. Roll everything up tightly and serve whole or cut into bite-sized pieces.
Hummus, spinach and avocado all have teeth-friendly vitamins and minerals. The calcium from the cheese is good for strengthening teeth too. As an added bonus, crunchy fruits and veggies like cucumbers help scrape plaque off the teeth as kids eat them. Consider them nature’s toothbrushes!
3. A Smile-Strengthening Bento Box
Bento boxes are awesome and a great way to give kids variety and not have to make one huge thing for lunch. The healthy school lunch ideas for kids are endless with them because you can throw together so many different combinations. For a smile-strengthening option, try this bento box idea from Vicky Barone: Turkey and cheese club sandwich, peas, and apple slices with almond butter. The lunch contains calcium, phosphorus, protein, fiber, antioxidants and vitamin C, which all boost the health of teeth and gums. Apples are one of the foods that are good for teeth, because, as we mentioned before, they actually help remove plaque as kids eat them.
4. Healthy Tofu Scramble
If you’re looking for plant-based school lunch ideas for kids, look no further than a tofu scramble. To give the tofu a scrambled egg-like texture, you drain two blocks of the extra firm variety and then mash it with a fork or potato masher before adding it to a skillet with your veggies and spices. Try this southwestern version from Minimalist Baker. This is something you can make ahead and portion out for a few lunches. Serve the tofu scramble on a wrap with cut-up fruit on the side. Tofu is rich in protein and calcium, both important for strengthening kids’ teeth. If your child isn’t big on veggies, finely chop some red and orange bell peppers so that they’re barely noticeable. The vitamin C in the colorful peppers encourages healthy gums.
5. Fruity Peanut Butter Pitas
The classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich tops the list when it comes to fast lunches for kids. Give it a healthier twist with one of our favorite foods that are good for teeth: raw apples. Taste of Home has a great recipe for fruity peanut butter pitas. In a bowl, mix peanut butter (or sunbutter if you’re nut-free), a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, apple slices and banana slices and stuff the mixture inside of whole wheat pitas. The prep work only takes a few minutes and your kiddo will get protein, vitamin C, fiber and potassium to support their oral health.
Hopefully these school lunch ideas for kids will help you check at least one thing off of your to-do list. If a dental exam with a Brooklyn pediatric dentist is also on the list, we can help with that too! Schedule a visit at Bitesize Pediatric Dentistry today!