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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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November 02, 2017

Brown Bag Redo—Kids Edition

By Worker Bee
44 Comments

Paper lunch bags with red apple on school deskMost kids go to school about 180 days each year, which means you’re packing 180 lunches—or more, if you have multiple children. It’s natural about this time of year for old routines to get stale—for parents and kids.

Luckily, there are plenty of healthy and delicious Primal lunch choices for kids. Here you’ll find inspiration and a few helpful tips that will make packing kids’ lunches an easy task instead of a dreaded chore.

Leftovers Make Life Easier

Protein that can be eaten without utensils is perfect for school lunches, so make a double (or triple) batch for dinner and pack leftovers for lunch. Think chicken thighs and drumsticks, meatballs, skewers, meatloaf and sliced steak.

Maintain a Running List

It’s amazing how easy it is to blank out each week when it’s time to write a shopping list for school lunches. Here’s a simple trick: Make a list of lunches that you know your kids will eat and keep the list on your refrigerator at all times. Simply refer to your lunch list each week for lunch planning (instead of getting overwhelmed on Pinterest).

Keep the Sides Simple

If you have time to bake or cook homemade snacks, great! But there’s no reason to feel guilty if you don’t. Simple, whole foods are the healthiest and easiest option for school lunches. Fresh fruit, raw veggies, nuts, beef jerky, olives, cheese, and plain whole milk yogurt are all delicious options you can stock up on each week. For variety, include dip for fruit (like coconut butter) and/or dip for veggies (Primal Kitchen® Mayo and Salad Dressings, pesto, tapenade, guacamole).

7 Lunch Box Menus

Primal Aviary

1. Chicken drumsticks + Primal Kitchen Ranch Dressing for Dipping + Cherry Tomatoes + Olives + Carrot Sticks + Green Beans

Variations: Chicken thighs instead of drumsticks

 

Primal Aviary

2. Meatball + Cherry Tomato Skewers + Blueberries + Green Beans + Carrot Sticks

Variations: Add small mozzarella balls the skewers and pesto for dipping.

Tip: Make a few dozen meatballs and keep them in the freezer. To defrost, move meatballs into the refrigerator the night before.

 

Primal Aviary

3. Seaweed Snacks + Smoked Salmon/Lox + Avocado + Cucumber

Kids can assemble their own sushi wraps as they eat lunch!

Tip: To keep avocados green, drizzle a tiny bit of lemon or lime juice on top, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Pack a fork or spoon for kids to scoop out the avocado.

 

Primal Aviary

4. High-Quality Chicken/Turkey Deli Meat (or homemade deli meat ) Wrapped around Bacon, Lettuce, & Primal Kitchen Mayo + Hard-Boiled Egg + Olives + Fresh Berries with Coconut Butter 

Primal Aviary

5. Primal Pancake Sandwiches Filled with Nut Butter or Sunflower Seed Butter + Fresh Fruit + Beef Jerky

 

Primal Aviary

6. Salami Chips + Guacamole + Sliced Cucumber + Primal Cornbread 

Tip: Make salami chips by baking salami or pepperoni at 375º F for 8-10 minutes until crisp. Store overnight in an airtight container. Also, here’s how to keep guacamole green.

Variation: Pack bacon guacamole with cheddar chips.

 

Primal Aviary

7. Sliced Steak + Pesto + Mozzarella Cheese Sticks + Dark Chocolate + Nuts

Tip: Make steak the night before and pack leftovers for lunch.

Variation: Thread steak onto skewers with roasted vegetables, pack guacamole instead of pesto.

How do these lunches compare with your current routine? Ideas to add—for kids’ (or adults’!) lunch options? Share your favorite suggestions below, and thanks for reading, everyone. 

TAGS:  cooking tips

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44 Comments on "Brown Bag Redo—Kids Edition"

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Ant
Ant
3 months 21 days ago

If there were any left over steak in my house it certainly wouldn’t be going to the kids!

Eastern
Eastern
3 months 21 days ago

Don’t children need more carbs than are present in these lunches?

Curtis
3 months 21 days ago

This only covers lunches. I’m sure you could account for “needed” primal carb sources at dinner.

Shary
Shary
3 months 21 days ago

That was my thought too. Except for the one with the steak slices, there isn’t anything very substantial here. These meals look more like snacks than lunch, even for grade school kids. Also, I’m not so sure low-carb is such a great idea for rapidly growing children.

Casey
Casey
3 months 21 days ago

One meal a day that isn’t high carb does not hurt kids. My youngest blocks his carbs with dinner – he just does despite what I serve him. He just won’t eat potato, starchy veggies, or much fruit until dinner time. He has no issues with growth. Heck, even his friend who is on a medical ketogenic diet doesn’t have growth issues!

Jack Lea Mason
Jack Lea Mason
3 months 20 days ago

They get carbs from their friends and vending machines. They have to consciously avoid them to not get them.

Elizabeth Resnick
3 months 21 days ago

Forget the kids! Anyone want to make these lunches for me? Number 3 is my fave

Shary
Shary
3 months 21 days ago

I thought it looked pretty good too, but I don’t think many kids would like it.

HealthyHombre
HealthyHombre
3 months 21 days ago

LOL beat me to the punch Elizabeth! The #3 looks great followed by immediate consumption of the #2. 🙂

Rob
Rob
3 months 21 days ago

I have to agree. If an adult wants to eat a healthy lunch it’s hard to argue about these suggestions.

Shary
Shary
3 months 21 days ago

These sample lunches strike me as totally unrealistic. Seaweed? Lox? Pesto? C’mon… Most adults won’t eat that stuff, much less ultra-picky kids. A lunchbox redo from the old standard PB&J is probably a good idea, but few of these meals would make the grade. You have to give kids something they’ll actually eat, versus dumping in the trash, or you’re wasting both your time and money. If what they’ll eat isn’t as low carb as you’d like, then so be it.

Casey
Casey
3 months 21 days ago
It is sad that we’ve decided our kids will only like “kid approved” foods. Kids are capable of eating the same variety of foods as adults and do so all over the world. There is nothing in the meals above that my kids would refuse to eat (they actually had sushi for dinner tonight, their request). One of my kids has severe sensory processing issues too, but we never allowed her to conform to “kid approved” foods because we just never fed them to her – we taught our kids how to eat a large variety of foods by not… Read more »
crcr
crcr
3 months 20 days ago

100% agree with this!

tribal
tribal
3 months 21 days ago

Kids we eat whatever you program them to eat in the first few months of life – its totally true and I’ve observed this for myself.

It is as if there brain is absorbing what foods are safe to eat based on what the parents feed in the first few months (even weeks) – this makes sense from an evolutionary point of view.

If you program your kids to eat junk food, its neigh impossible to reprogram them later.

Shary
Shary
3 months 20 days ago
Kids will eat whatever they are programmed to eat only as long as you have total control. Once they reach school age that all changes. Have you ever noticed all the fast food joints within a block or two of the schools? They are well aware of what you turn a blind eye to. I’m not suggesting kids should be allowed to eat junk, but I’m not an advocate of carb restriction for growing kids either. There’s plenty of time for that later in their lives. Meanwhile it might be a better idea to increase the carbs needed for growth… Read more »
Kacie
Kacie
3 months 19 days ago

My kids are 5 and 3 years old and this is exactly what their lunches look like and there is barely any waste! I’ve brought them up eating the foods I eat, not processed “kid approved” crap.

Lara
Lara
3 months 18 days ago
I dunno. It’s all in how you introduce them to foods when they’re babies. If you just give them normal food rather than assuming they won’t like it, they’ll eat normal food. My two year old eats whatever we eat. When we first introduced her to solid foods at 6 months, we just gave her whatever we were having. She has her own likes and dislikes, of course, just like any other person, but she’s got a pretty broad range of foods she likes. Just yesterday, she was “helping” me with the cooking and munching on raw onions and garlic.
Jen
Jen
3 months 21 days ago

I want to eat all of them RIGHT NOW! Wish I’d had these when I was a kid.

Ontario
Ontario
3 months 21 days ago

Love this! I often hear parents say, “Oh, but my kids would never eat primal/paleo”. Oh, come ON! You know what your kids will eat? They’ll eat what you feed them. Period. Great to see a post focusing on kids. Because, Mark, you’re not going to amass that Primal army without the next generation.

2Rae
2Rae
3 months 21 days ago

Well, sad to say I’ve retrieved black not eaten wonderful meals from the bottom of the back pack too many times to believe he’d ever eat anything that is remotely good for him, but he’s a teen so I’m not throwing my $$ away until he actually eats the real food……. maybe when he gets a girlfriend and wants the skin to clear a bit?

PrimalPlum
PrimalPlum
3 months 21 days ago

I don’t have kids either, but this is a great set of ideas to help with hubby lunches. These are also good for traveling lunches (we RV a lot) or knowing you have to take something along in a cooler. I’m good with a salad and protein, but husband is more traditional about lunch. These would all pass muster with him. Sure, I could spend time thinking of these ideas myself, but I so appreciate a set of ideas all in one place!

Qness
3 months 21 days ago
My carb loving kiddo is having a hard time letting go of his favorite snacks (goldfish, popcorn, crackers, granola bars). We finally phased out bread for sandwiches and do ‘sandwich rollups’ now: havarti cheese, chicken breast, and cream cheese rolled up and cut into 4 two bite pieces – or some other variation on this. We have also started putting hard boiled eggs or egg salad in there – he was surprised to find he liked these. We discovered he likes cashews, so those are getting placed in there instead of the previous staples. We are replacing items in stages… Read more »
Sarah
Sarah
3 months 21 days ago

Baby steps!

wildgrok
wildgrok
3 months 21 days ago

Same as the last time:
I am supposed not to eat today for 24 hours

Now I am hungry 🙁

Good that I read this at this time (5pm), only 3 more hours to go 🙂

Gone Paleo
Gone Paleo
3 months 21 days ago

I’d just been thinking about this the past week, not for the kids but for me since I have to bring a lunch every day. Great suggestions to perk up the normal routine with something different.

Amy Baggett
Amy Baggett
3 months 21 days ago

This post is April Fools in November, right?

Shary
Shary
3 months 20 days ago

+1.

Casey
Casey
3 months 21 days ago
We have a number of hits. Deli turkey rolls with almond butter (or sun butter) and strawberry preserve (we use a brand that is fruit only or make our own); tuna salad (with mayo, strawberries, blueberries, pickles and a dust of cayenne) and carrot sticks; and leftover paleo pizza, which you can make the crust with cauliflower, or you can do plantain and turn it into a mexican pizza. I do a lot with making it attractive, including using little shape cutters on fruits and vegetables, special little cups for dressings or separating items – just that sort of thing.… Read more »
tribal
tribal
3 months 21 days ago

sure beat the lunches we used to get packed.

PrimalGrandma
PrimalGrandma
3 months 21 days ago

My 10 year old grand daughter would eat most of the the stuff in these lunches although it might not be in the same order/combinations as suggested. I personally like the idea of limiting carbs at lunch especially if you want them to stay awake for the rest of the afternoon.

rockymountainelle
rockymountainelle
3 months 21 days ago
I love this post for the whole family! We already do versions of the chicken, salmon, and jerky. However, the salmon and meatballs are much-needed new ideas to throw into the mix–thanks. Also, for those hesitant to try these with their kiddos– don’t doubt the power of a cute bento box. Like the sample trays at the grocery stores, they magically break down food barriers. Also, it does take time to develop new habits, but these types of lunches are something we now can pull off pretty easily most weeks. We just put aside sliced veggies while prepping before dinner,… Read more »
A ghost
A ghost
3 months 21 days ago
This rather makes me wonder if Mark has considered the purpose of lunch boxes. They are not a cute way of presenting dinner at home, but a method for carrying ready-to-eat food around. Not only do lunch boxes get jostled around in transit (which means that everything will get hopelessly mixed up unless packed tightly), they are also stored for long periods of time at room temperature or, if you are unlucky, next to an overheated radiator (in case you don’t know, brown and slimy apple slices are disgusting, and depending on how old leftovers are, they might become dangerous).… Read more »
PrimalGrandma
PrimalGrandma
3 months 20 days ago

lol! Thanks for the trip down memory lane!! Can’t you just see the face of the cafeteria monitor when a bunch of kids start pulling out chicken drumsticks dripping in multi-colored sauces then setting them down on the cafeteria table waiting for whoever to clean up—
It’d be even more fun when the kids start sharing or trading their stuff.

A ghost
A ghost
3 months 18 days ago

Haha, yes. And I can vividly imagine the face of the next kid who has to sit in that place and is probably the one to have to clean up… Glad to know I’m not the only one who’s had this experience.

A ghost
A ghost
3 months 18 days ago
Since I posted this, I’ve been thinking about how to mitigate the problems I mentioned above, and hit upon the following: 1. Smoothies and drinkable chilled soups with cooked produce. The cooking stops the produce from oxidizing and something that can be drunk minimizes mess, if you choose the right container. Also, it is easy to add extra calories from things like cream or olive oil. Chilled, soups, by the way, are great: I used to think I hated soup until I tried to eat some cold. Most soups can be eaten chilled, and there are also dedicated recipes online.… Read more »
Chirsty
3 months 21 days ago

Thank your sharing this type of information. “Having Trouble STICKING with the Paleo Diet?”

crcr
crcr
3 months 20 days ago
I highly recommend the PlanetBox for school lunches. We used the one that opens up like a clamshell and just stays sitting on the cover. I would make a sandwich on Aldi brand sprouted bread (conformity!) using homemade nut butter and raw honey, uncured meat and cheese, or salmon or tuna moistened with avocado oil. One spot was usually filled with cubes of Kerrygold Dubliner, one with grapes, raisins or other dried fruits, or apples if I had time to dip them in lemon water that morning, and one with raw veggies. The little tiny spot in the middle held… Read more »
Jen
Jen
3 months 20 days ago

I’m actually surprised (but I guess I shouldn’t be) that there were negative comments to this post. I thought it was great! Thanks Mark!

HDA
HDA
3 months 20 days ago
My 11 year old probably needs 3 x the food shown in these lunches! And no nuts of any kind are allowed, and the 11 year old will eat nothing with coconut in it which really makes things tricky. I never have an issue getting my kids to eat lots of veggies and fruits, but getting anything with a substantial amount of calories into them can be tricky. I’ve tried sending dips to school, but they always seem to forget about them and they never get eaten. Despite eating primal for 8 years, neither kid likes cold meat. Any meat… Read more »
Jack Lea Mason
Jack Lea Mason
3 months 20 days ago

Chopped quinoa salads are great portable lunches. A little bit of quinoa goes a long way. A half cup is only 20 grams of carbs and is there just to soak up extra liquid and favors from the good stuff. Some favorites are chicken pesto, Greek (feta cheese, chopped cucumber, tomato, red onion, fresh dill) Mexican( pico de gallo, shredded cheese, taco seasoning). It all fits in one container and all you need is a spoon to consume it.

Susan
Susan
3 months 20 days ago

I have my 2 young grands every other week. They each have a short wide mouth thermos. I warm up, home made soup, chili, chicken and rice, meat balls, what ever left over that will fit nicely in the thermos. The week I don’t have them, I do freezer cooking so there is always a good hot meal for school lunch. Ad some home made trail mix, cheese chunks, fruit and a spoon, they are good to go.

Alisa Studer
3 months 15 days ago

The state of kids lunches today is horrendous! I went to sit with my preschooler the other day and I saw a sea of Doritos, cookies, cheese puffs, all processed crap! It’s amazing to me, when they are that young you still have control over what they eat, so why feed them junk?? My poor kid with his fruit and avocado sandwich. I know bread is bad too but I’m not perfect.

Tina
Tina
3 months 5 days ago

Does anyone know what lunch boxes/ bento boxes are pictured in this post? Thanks!

Spanish to English
3 months 10 hours ago

They need more carbs than these lunches

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