As we have learned through our years of paleo lunch packing, there is no such thing as too many paleo to-go recipe options! That is why you will find a number of lunch packing resources on our site (like here, here and here). Oh, and we also wrote an entire e-book on the subject of eating paleo on the go because we have found a gajillion ways to keep eating paleo convenient, which has led to our family’s success in staying committed to this lifestyle no matter what life throws our way.
Here today to provide even more tips, tools and recipes for eating paleo on the go is Victoria from Nourishing The Whole Family. She has a wonderfully inspirational story on how her family discovered and adopted a paleo diet, along with so many delicious recipe resources found here!
Take it away Victoria!
Packing lunch boxes that are healthy, nutritious and keep you or your little one fueled for the whole day can be a daunting task. We are a family of 6 with 4 kids ranging from 2- 12. The biggest challenge for my children’s lunch boxes is accommodating my son’s AIP needs. We recently discovered (after being Paleo for over a year) that my son who is 9 is intolerant to several food groups. His behaviour had always been an issue and we could not figure out why. When we removed all processed food, grains and dairy he was still very emotional, angry and distracted. Finally, discovering that he is intolerant to EGGS (yep EGGS!) the staple ingredient to most Paleo cooking (and also intolerant to gluten, dairy, wheat, spelt, whey, and pinto beans) we decided to adopt an AIP approach. Healing his leaky gut, which was classified as severe, has been my top priority.
Lunch Boxes are my way of being an inner control freak. Providing the family with nourishing food when they are at school is my way of knowing I’m contributing to their day when they are in the care of someone else.
Keeping food simple and colorful is my first step. Don’t feel that pressure to create a different lunch every day – we as parents are under so much pressure already, lets keep it real and keep it simple. Children will let you know if they get bored, and you can switch it up then. I grew up eating the same food everyday and it didn’t make me fussy or picky – it had the opposite effect because I actually grew to appreciate food and the unique meals when they came along. We need to remind ourselves to take things back to basics like meat, veggies, fruit and some nuts or seeds – nothing fancy is needed to keep kids interested in food.
To each lunchbox I try to add a meat, fruit and vegetable, and a healthy snack with either coconut oil or avocado dip. I cook all my meat in animal fat for that extra boost in healthy fats. We can’t send nuts to school but we can eat them at home. We love seeds and add them to fat balls and to my banana bread.
The fruit and vegetables I buy are all in season and local, which I like because it reduces the air miles of the food in transit and more importantly it allows me to support the local farmer. I ditch the supermarket as much as possible, opting to support local smaller businesses. Here in Australia we have a local delivery company that delivers fresh local ingredients straight to the door! It’s such a fabulous service, and you get to know your farmer and their framing practices.
Now, for some recipe suggestions!
Pulled Pork Lettuce Cups
Leftover Chicken Kebabs
Kebab sticks can be a fun way to mix up of leftover and fresh ingredients. These chicken kebabs were pulled together from leftover roasted chicken with diced cucumber. The melon balls are always a favorite in our house and they eliminate the sticky fruit fingers situation.
Sweet Potato Fish Cakes
Simple sweet potato fish cakes can be made in advance, and provide a filling lunch that can be loved by you or the children. Just mix leftover sweet potato with a can of tuna or salmon, and add any leftover veggies that you have on hand. Or make it a thai inspired fish cake with a squeeze of fresh lime, cilantro, red onion and a fresh chile. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes and you have a quick and easy, cost-effective lunch, or even a dinner for the whole family. Home-made coleslaw with my simple homemade mayonnaise is a great Paleo-friendly side dish for fish cakes!
Roast Chicken Pieces
Sending a mini chicken dinner was an idea I had when I was struggling to find ideas for my AIP son’s lunch. I knew I needed to sustain his hunger throughout the day, and sending him with lots of veggies seemed to work for him. The chicken and the vegetables with a slice of glorious star fruit and a fat bomb made with dried dates, fresh blueberries and coconut oil is a filling lunch! Works fabulous for the child that hates avocado, rarely eats sweet potato and refuses to eat cauliflower, zoodles, and is intolerant to egg. The chicken thighs are a very in-expensive meat option and so much more tastier than chicken breast.
Coconut Chicken With Mesto Pesto
This is my favourite AIP compliant lunch. I make a Mesto Pesto that is nut free – so perfect for school lunch boxes and those with allergies. Simply combine fresh basil leaves, garlic cloves, olive oil and dried mushrooms, and blend until smooth. This combination makes a wonderful dip for those veggies. The chicken I cook in coconut aminos, and the crunchy and tasty kale chips are seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder, and baked in the oven for 5 minutes.
And finally, my lunchbox packing guidelines:
RULES FOR LUNCH BOXES!
- Keep it simple – kids like no fuss.
- Add as much color as you can.
- Involve the kids with packing and deciding what they want – talk about what they would like. Sometimes we automatically pack items, don’t ask the kids and then get annoyed when they come home not eaten.
- Send finger foods – they are easier for the kids to eat, and some children are grazers, picking bits at a time.
- Don’t overfill – don’t be worried your child will go hungry. You will soon learn that night if they were hungry or not after that first day, and you can adjust accordingly if necessary.
- Use a bento lunchbox if possible – from what teachers are telling me they are loving these new style lunch boxes as they can say to “eat just one more section.”
- Prepare as much as you can in advance – bulk cook and chop in advance, and store in air tight containers in the fridge. And if you’re worried about keeping the food fresh in warmer temperatures, then send food in an insulated cool bag with ice bricks. I also find the stainless steel boxes keep cooler for longer, especially if stored in the fridge overnight.