By Jenna Fanelli & Donna Duarte-Ladd
We know you keep hearing it over and over again. This school year is going to be different. It is the “new normal.” And parents are amazing; we adapt, we make it work. And whether your kids are participating in blended learning or remote — the kids’ lunchtime in some form is on us.
So, we’ve rounded up some great ready-made lunches and snacks for kids: some take just a minute to heat up at home, and others that can come ready to eat. The best part — these are kid-tested and approved!
*Please keep in mind that not all products may be free of tree nuts, milk or wheat. Please read the packaging before purchasing.
Psst … getting ready for the new school year? Check out our Ultimate Guide to School Supplies.
In-store ready-made lunches
Most schools are closing the cafeteria, meaning no hot lunches. For some kids, they are going to be required to eat at their desks. If your child is at one of these public schools, they can do a grab-and-go lunch. And most schools have gotten creative, offering meal kits and deliciously nutritious meals.
However, kids often get bored about school lunch, even during pre-COVID times, and these meals are great to add to the school lunch mix, whether at home or in the classroom.
If you are home, these are easy meals that require no heating or fast heating. If you are dealing with multiple kids or working remotely and need to be time-efficient, these are affordable meals to feed the kids this year.
Target’s in-house brand of lunch kits offer yummy lunch kits offering smoked turkey and cheddar cheese and uncured ham and cheddar cheese lunch kit, to name a few kids’ favorites. The turkey is raised without antibiotics and growth hormones, and the ham has no added nitrates or nitrites, making this an easy, healthy lunch choice you can feel good about.
Lunchables has always been a kid-friendly favorite. They’re available at most grocery stores, easy and fun, and there are great options to choose from offering a multitude of offerings such as Lunchables with Juice, Lunchables Uploaded, Lunchables Bruncheables, and more. From chicken kabobs to Extra Chessy Pizza, there are many options for the pickiest of kids this school year.
Give your taco-lover this super tasty and straightforward pack of seasoned shredded beef brisket, diced onions, Peppadew peppers and cotija cheese in white corn tortillas.
Kid Cuisine meals can be heated in the microwave or oven and feature longtime favorite amongst ready-made kids’ lunches such as Bikini Bottom Chicken Breast Nuggets Meal, which features breaded, white meat chicken for a slam dunk meal your little one will enjoy. Each frozen meal comes with macaroni and cheese, corn and vanilla pudding with graham sprinkles on top.
Ready-made lunches for delivery
Listen, we all want to be able to pick the herbs from the garden and bread the chicken into the nuggets ourselves. But we’re busy! Delivery meals are yes, an extravagance, but we found two services that provide nutritious meals that not only the kids will love, but so will the parents. Also, from our research, these plans were cost-effective, and meals were well thought out, just like moms!
Yumble is quite aware of its audience. The meals are delivered in a fun box have cool names like Class Cheese Ravioli, Say Cheese! Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets and more. But they also know what parents want, which is high-quality meals that mom doesn’t have time to make. Meals such as the Class Cheese Ravioli and Say Cheese! Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets come in a chef-crafted tomato sauce that is packed with pureed veggies and lentils to give a boost of Vitamins A, C, and E, and features a side of green beans. Refreshing tricky recipe add-ons that mom (or dad!) does on the sly for her dishes are part of these meals; expect to find their signature hidden-veggies cauliflower puree cheese sauce.
Meals are microwavable and ready in 60 to 90 seconds!
Price: Starting at $5.99/meal
Nurture life provides meals for babies, toddlers, kids, teens and adults. Meals are nutritious with balanced portions, so your kids get to the right nutrients. Our testers loved the cheesy pesto tortellini with chicken breast and carrots — with mini tortellini, the favorite little cheesy pasta pockets are tossed in a nut-free pesto that is blended with spinach. Grilled chicken breast and baby carrots round out the dish with a pop of protein and a bit of crunch. And veggie ragout pasta with fresh mozzarella features nine different veggies, and a surprising pack of protein from lentils blended right into the sauce! Tossed with fun spiral whole wheat noodles and topped with fresh mozzarella, this meal feels familiar while keeping it nutritious.
These ready-to-eat rolled oat balls are sweet and chewy and make the perfect kids’ breakfast or midday snack. Made with protein-packed grains and seeds, snack poppers are balanced with the right amount of honey to make a yummy treat that growing bodies will love.
Price: Starting at $5.99/meal
Get your zest on with this delicious twist on a family-favorite flavor. Cool and lemony with organic rolled oats. Jammy blueberry flavored topping drizzled with creamy vanilla kicks those tastebuds up into high gear.
Price: $19.50/15 bars
This is the bar that kids will love! It tastes like cookies ‘n’ creme and is packed with organic oats and 5 grams of protein to keep them going. They are going to love this creamy cookie crunch bar.
Price: $4.75/five bars
Kids will love every bite of this gluten-free, healthy and natural buttered popcorn. And, they can mix things up with each bag when they try any of the four flavors including Big-Time Butter, Cheeseriffic Cheese, Sweet ‘N Salty Kooky Kettle and Finger Lickin’ Pizza!
Price: $11.98/28 bags
Getting your kids to eat healthy is as simple as can be with Disney Foodles Apple and Cheese Snacks from Crunch Pak®. With each pack coming with different options, you have your choice between apples, pretzels, cheese, grapes and more. They are perfect to pack in their cold lunches or to have as a midday snack.
These organic snack packs are the perfect size to take on the go and come in a variety of nutritious and delicious combinations. With a convenient peel open top, kids can dig right in. And, having at least five grams of protein per pack, it’s an easy way to keep kids going. Available in three combinations, the snack packs offer new feel-good snacking options for all families. Horizon Organic Good & Go Snacks are available in three varieties: cheddar and pretzels; colby and apple crisps; and cheddar, raisins, cashews and sweetened cranberries.
This story originally appeared on newyorkfamily.com.