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Teachers Need Lunch, Too: Great School Lunch Ideas

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With their seemingly nonstop, busy schedules, it can be hard for teachers to find enough time to eat (and actually enjoy) lunch at school. Today's post provides some simple and delicious lunch ideas that teachers can prepare ahead of time.

So Much Work, So Little Time (to Eat)

As a new teacher, you may be quickly discovering that teaching is a whole lot of work. In between lessons, answering questions, grading papers, and dealing with classroom issues, it can be tricky to find a few free minutes to sit down and eat a quick lunch. If you add in those weeks of lunch duty (if applicable), it may be next to impossible!

Although it can be hard to find time to eat lunch at school, it's very important that you do so - a growling tummy can be quite disruptive when it comes to teaching a classroom of rowdy students! Also, you don't want to risk getting 'hangry!' Below are some simple, nutritious school lunch ideas that you can make ahead of time and enjoy when it's convenient.

The Possibilities of Protein

It's good to prepare lunches that feature a lean protein source. After all, protein is one of the most important nutrients; it contains amino acids that help to keep us healthy by repairing damaged cells and creating new ones.

Depending on your dietary preferences, your lean protein could be boneless, skinless chicken breasts or even tofu. If you have a little free time on the weekends, make a large batch - enough to make 3-4 days' worth of meals. Then, you can easily adapt your protein to make any of the following lunches, which can be conveniently packed into portable containers.

salad

Southwest Salad

Cut your protein source into bite-sized pieces and combine with chopped romaine lettuce, avocado, shredded cheese, black beans, onions, grape tomatoes, and/or any other ingredients you desire. Top with a low-fat, Southwest-style dressing (carry separately to avoid soggy salad) and crushed tortilla chips.

Caesar Wrap

Spread Caesar dressing on a whole-wheat wrap, then top with your bite-sized protein pieces, chopped romaine lettuce, thinly sliced tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese. Roll up tightly into a wrap-style sandwich.

wrap

Cranberry-Pecan Salad Sandwich

Combine your bite-sized protein with dried cranberries, chopped pecans, diced apples, halved grapes, and a little light mayonnaise or plain Greek yogurt. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread on slices of good, sturdy whole-wheat bread.

Any of these ideas can be modified to meet your own desires. Don't worry about measurements - they take up too much time and aren't necessary in easy, adaptable recipes like these.

A Little Sweetness Never Hurt Anybody

If you tend to have a sweet tooth from time to time, the following lunch ideas may be right up your alley. They are easy to prepare and add a little sweetness to your hectic school days.

Overnight Oats

Oats are a good source of fiber, which can help you feel satisfied longer. Before you go to bed at night, combine 1/2 cup of rolled or old-fashioned oats and 1/2 cup of yogurt or milk in a small, portable container (small Mason jars with lids work great) and keep chilled until you're ready to enjoy. You might want to consider using Greek yogurt since it has several health benefits and nearly double the protein of regular yogurt.

When it's time to eat your overnight oats for lunch, you can tweak this basic recipe any way you wish to meet your cravings and preferences. Below are some healthy ideas for add-ins:

  • fresh berries
  • diced apples and cinnamon
  • peanut butter and bananas
  • almonds and honey

overnightoats

Personalized Parfait

Layer Greek yogurt (or regular - whichever you prefer), fruit, low-fat granola, and any other ingredients you like in a large cylindrical container. Keep chilled until you're ready to eat.

Peanut Butter & Jelly

Although it might seem like an obvious lunch choice, a good old-fashioned PB&J is never a bad idea for lunch. Prepare it with natural peanut butter on fiber-rich, whole-grain bread, and you just took it up a notch on the healthy scale.

Other Ideas & Tips

  • Since some school days are crazier than others, it's good to keep a stash of ready-to-eat, healthy snacks in your classroom in case you need a quick pick-me-up. Some good ideas are almonds or other nuts, granola bars, and sliced veggies with hummus.
  • Pack dinner leftovers in a portable, reheatable container to take with you the following school day.
  • Soups and casseroles can be heated in the morning and kept warm in a thermos until lunchtime.
  • Hard-boiled eggs are packed with protein and make for an easy meal. Add whole-grain crackers and some fruit for a well-rounded, quick lunch.
  • Dehydration can have many negative effects on the body. Keep a case of bottled spring water in your classroom so that you never risk drying out! If plain water isn't your thing, lemon wedges (or other sliced fruits) add great, refreshing flavor and are good for the body.

hydration

Lunch Time!

Remember that the ideas presented here are just general suggestions. Please keep your own likes and tastes in mind when thinking about tomorrow's lunch. And although it can be easy to brush off your own nutritional needs as a teacher, don't forget how important it is to keep yourself nourished. Your stomach and your students will thank you!

By Erin Riskey
September 2017
teachers teacher tips & tricks

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