Low Carb Kids Lunches

With school back in session many of us have back to school preparations on the brain! Along with new clothes and school supplies we have to start thinking about good nutrition to get our kiddos on track for a successful year. In fact, nutrient deficiency is a prime reason for Attention Deficit, Hyperactivity, and poor testing scores!  Learn how to plan balanced lunches that pack a powerful nutrition punch and avoid empty carbohydrates, artificial colorants, and refined sugars.

 

Priorities for Building Your Child's Lunch

A lot of products containing artificial colorants/dyes, added refined sugar, and GMOs can be seen targeted towards children and unfortunately, these are the ingredients that lead to increased hyperactivity, brain fog, fatigue, and increased food sensitivity. Instead of relying on packaged items advertised to children, build their lunch from real, whole, single ingredient foods! 

I recommend working fun into your child’s lunch by ensuring 2-3 colors each day in their lunch bag. This is where fresh fruits and vegetables come in to add visual appeal as well as texture, crunch, diversity of flavors and antioxidants! Also, you need to empower the child to be a “Taste Adventurer” by giving them specific options and ranges, such as “Which fruit would you like? Kiwi or Grapes?” Give them ranges and parameters but let them demonstrate autonomy. Don't allow for YES or NO questions. If they are in charge and have a say in food selection, they will be more likely to eat and enjoy the lunch!

Questions to ask:
"What protein would you like in your lunch tomorrow, burger or ham and cheese roll ups?" 
"What red item would you like in your lunch, strawberries or bell peppers?"
"Would you prefer crunchy cucumbers or leftover yummy broccoli?" 

 

To the contrary of most school lunches and snacks geared at kiddos, carbs are NOT an essential component of a balanced lunch! That said, even if you don’t pack them, carbs will always find your child…so it is important to focus on selecting quality proteins and fats to fuel them! Focus on protein, fat and non-starchy veggies FIRST when packing a lunch or presenting a meal to your child! As an example, when Stella sits down for her lunch or dinner I will put salmon, avocado and broccoli roasted in coconut oil on her plate as a first course and allow her to choose from these nourishing foods. Then, when she starts to slow down, I will sprinkle maybe 1/2 cup of berries in to excite her palate and add variety to keep her engaged in eating!

Note: Avoid single-use plastics (and plastic tupperware) as much as possible! Use stainless steel or glass (depending on how much you trust your kid haha!) instead for main items and Stashers bags for dry goods. 

Here are a couple of storage items that are household staples for car rides, travel and school:

HydroFlask Water Bottle

Stainless Steel Containers

Pack-it Freezable Lunch Bag

Stasher Bags

3 Tier Stainless Lunch Box

LunchBots Stainless Steel Bento Box

Building A Balanced Lunchbox

Use the following as a matrix and choose 1-2 items from each list. Here are a couple of visual examples of how this can play out in your child’s lunch to provide a variety of choices, textures and colors:

Siete quesadilla with chicken and cheese, pork rinds, cucumbers, guacamole and raspberries

Almond Butter Pancakes from The Anti-Anxiety Diet Cookbook, pasture-raised sausage patty, peaches, cucumbers, organic string cheese

Pepperoni and cheese pizza on a Cauliflower Thin, extra shredded organic mozzarella and uncured pepperoni for protein and fat, blueberries, bell peppers

CHOOSE YOUR NON-STARCHY VEGETABLES

Offer a variety of options and allow your child to choose what goes in the lunchbox the next day–do you want cucumbers or bell peppers with your lunch? Use leftover roasted broccoli or cauliflower, zucchini sticks or celery as options to keep things interesting and deliver a variety of antioxidants and phytonutrients!

Pair these with a dip such as hummus, guacamole or a clean ranch dressing to add flavor and healthy fats! Primal Kitchen makes good options for pre-made dressings or check out True Made Foods for clean condiments! 

I am always working to get 2-3 cups of greens in daily, so I give Stella a green smoothie every other day as an after school snack and she has SeaSnax and Kale chips as a salty snack on the go!

Choose 1-2:

Cucumbers

Celery

Bell Peppers

Snap Peas

Zucchini Sticks

Cherry Tomatoes

Kale Chips

SeaSnax

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Broccoli

Fermented Pickled Veggies (Bubbies, Barrel Creek or Farmhouse Cultures)

Keto Zucchini Fritters

FOCUS ON CLEAN PROTEIN

Eggs are a great option for a quick grab of protein to support brain function! Hard boiled eggs are rich in choline and omega-3s that support brain function. These are great with a dollop of mustard or cut up in an egg salad. Turkey slices (naked in house roasted with no binders or fillers) have protein to boost lean mass and brain power while providing tryptophan which can reduce testing anxiety. 

Choose 1-2:

Naked In House Roasted Turkey

Pulled Rotisserie Chicken

Leftover Burger Patty

Uncured Ham

In House Roast Beef

Uncured Salami

Uncured Pepperoni

Hard-Boiled Eggs

The Salumeria Saluminis (use code ALIMILLERRD for savings)

Chomps Beef Sticks

The New Primal Snack Mates

Epic Jerky (love the Salmon Jerky)

Epic Meat Bars (the Uncured Bacon flavor is a fave!)

Perfect Bar (refrigerated)

RX Bar

Caramelized Onion, Turkey & Kale Egg Muffins

Pizza Egg Cups

Nori Salmon Roll Ups

Chicken Satay Skewers

Quesadilla made with Siete Tortilla, cheese and rotisserie chicken or protein of choice

Almond Flour Chicken Tenders

Blueberry Banana Muffins

Sausage Patties

Almond Butter Banana Pancakes from The Anti-Anxiety Diet Cookbook 

Leftover Bacon

PACK WHOLE FATS

Pack whole fats to keep your child grounded and mellow! Cheese cubes provide calcium, vitamin K, probiotics, and protein while providing a salty cheesy flavor! Look for raw aged for probiotics and vitamin K2, choose sources free of rGBH growth hormone. Also consider avocado and olives for additional healthy fat options!

If your school allows them, think nuts for balanced energy! Nut butters, nuts/seeds, homemade trail mix, and even seed butters for those schools that have an allergy ban. These products are a great way to provide energy for your child without the crash and burn. Healthy fats are very grounding and provide a balance without too much excitatory response. 

Use healthy fats as a low carb salty crunchy option too! Why do goldfish that are high in carbs and contain refined flours and processed ingredients when you can instead opt for a parmesan crisp that has no carbs, but instead gives your kiddo protein and fat to ground and satiate them! We love Whisps Parmesan Crisps in individual packs for lunches. Pork rinds are a great option for little ones who are teething as well as a chip replacement for older kiddos to support connective tissue health as well as brain function. They are packed with gelatin and glycine, two compounds so often lacking in our modern diet!

Choose 1-2: 

Raw Aged Cheese Cubes

Organic String Cheese 

Epic Pork Rinds

4505 Pork Rinds

Whisps Parm Crisps

Olive Packs

Culina Coconut Yogurt

Full Fat Organic Greek Yogurt

Nut Butter Packs

Guacamole (cover with lime juice to prevent browning or can do individual packs)

Greek Yogurt Dip

Toasted Coconut Chips

CHOOSE HEALTHY CARBS….IF THERE’S ROOM! 

With all the other goodness above your child might forget about carbs altogether. Ensure carbs are always paired with protein and/or healthy fats and focus on real whole fruit to tame sugar cravings vs. fruit snacks which may have added sugar!  Incorporate low glycemic berries that also pack and antioxidant punch or kiwi which is loaded with vitamin C and allow your child to choose their 1 fruit option from a variety of choices! Hummus can be a great nourishing carb option to get picky eaters to eat their veggies. If needing a replacement for chips or crackers to slowly wean down the carb content of your child’s lunch, consider Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato Chips made with coconut oil or Simple Mills Grain Free Crackers as nourishing options contain protein, minerals and healthy fats and does not drive leaky gut or food sensitivity like gluten-containing counterparts!

Choose 1-2:

Berries

Orange Slices

Apple Slices (coat with lemon juice to prevent browning)

Kiwi (cut in half and eat with a spoon or do Sungold Kiwis which can be eaten with the skin!)

Grapes

Watermelon or Cantaloupe

Jackson’s Honest Chips

Simple Mills Grain Free Crackers

Leftover Roasted Sweet Potato

Individual Hummus Cups

Carrot Sticks

Dried Mango

Dehydrated Apple Slices

That's It Bars

Bear Fruit Rolls

Want even more ideas for building balanced lunches? Watch us make 4 Low Carb Kids Lunches on YouTube! 

Don’t Forget to Ask for Feedback!

When the lunchbox comes home, ask your child what they liked and didn’t like and WHY so that you can work together in creating a rotation that both parties will be happy with!

"I see you ate all of your quesadilla, is that something you'd like in your regular lunch rotation? Can you think of any other combinations you might want to try?"
"I noticed you didn't touch your broccoli, can you tell me a little more about why you didn't want to eat it?" You can guide with descriptive terms ie; was it too cold, soggy, stinky, etc. 
"Hmm, I'm thinking of a way to make your cucumbers taste better. Next time, would you like to try them dipped in hummus or ranch?"
"I see you didn't open your string cheese. Was it hard to open by yourself? I wonder what would happen if I gave you cheese cubes instead?" 

Not sure what an ingredient is or which brand to choose? Check out the Ali Miller RD Amazon Store for pantry staples, favorite snacks and more!

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