Making the Grade:  A+ School Lunches Kids Will Actually Eat!

by Christina Meyer-Jax, Tastemaker in Residence

With school bells ringing it’s time again to figure out the annual dilemma…how to pack healthy school lunches your kids will actually eat! Joining us today to help solve this nutrition puzzle is registered dietitian Christina Meyer-Jax.


Snickerdoodle Hummus
Adapted from: S&W Beans

What you will need:
1 (15.5oz) can S&W® Garbanzos (drained, rinsed)
1/4 cup almond butter
1/2 cup cinnamon applesauce
2 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice blend, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Sliced apples or pears

How to make:
1. In food processor or blender, combine beans, almond butter and applesauce. 
2. In small bowl, mix 1/4 teaspoon of the sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of the cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. 
3. Add remaining sugar, cinnamon and the vanilla to the food processor or blender. Cover; process 30 to 60 seconds or until smooth. 
4. Spread in shallow dish if serving all at once, or divide into single use containers for lunch boxes. Sprinkle top with cinnamon sugar mixture.
5. Serve with sliced apples or pears

Mason Jar Grilled Chicken and Bean Southwest Salad

What you need:
*This recipe can easily be doubled for extra meal prep
3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 6oz each) 
1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes with zesty mild green chilies (drained) or 1-2 cups fresh pico de gallo
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons taco seasoning blend of choice (can add more or less depending on preference)
1 large head romaine lettuce or spinach, coarsely chopped (8 to 10 cups)
1 (15.25oz) can S&W® Kidney Beans (drained, rinsed)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4oz)
1 cup favorite salsa (this is your “dressing”)
3 cups broken tortilla chips (5oz)
Chopped avocado or guacamole (optional)

How to make:
1. Cook chicken in preferred method.  I like to use my InstaPot and create shredded chicken.  I add a cup of water, olive oil and taco seasoning to pot before cooking.
2. Chill chicken at least overnight to allow for safe temperatures.
3. Divide ingredients and stack in alternating format in mason jars, or other cylinder lunch box containers.  Safely stores in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.  Make sure to include cooler packs, when putting in lunch boxes.

Smoothie Cubes

These recipes can mix and match different ingredients based on individual preference. The concentrate recipe is meant to be mixed-in with milk or dairy alternative during lunch.

Concentrate Recipe (makes 2 cups):

Option #1
1 cup berries of choice
1 banana
½ cup water
2 scoops protein powder (optional)
1 scoop acai powder or other super greens powder of choice (optional)

Option #2
1 cup raspberries or strawberries
½ cup almond butter (sub other nut butter of choice)
½ cup vanilla almond milk (or other milk of choice)
1 scoop of cocoa powder

How to make:

1. Blend ingredients until smooth. Add to ice trays (I like to use silicone varieties) and freeze. (can store up to 6 months in freezer)

2. Pop 3-6 cubes into travel mug or thermos the night before and store in the refrigerator. 

3. Add to lunch box. Then add milk or plant based alternative into container at lunchtime and stir.  Should mix into a perfect smoothie/shake consistency. This could also be used as an on the go breakfast or after-school/before sports snack.