Salad in a jar has totally become a thing. And while I love the concept (because everyone knows I love me some food in jars) I would need such a mega jar to put in enough salad to actually satisfy Max. The boy may be five but he has a massive appetite (and I’m pretty sure he would work up an even bigger appetite just hauling that honking jar around in his backpack). Plus little hands trying to dig into the bottom of a tall glass jar just doesn’t paint pretty pictures in my mind. Never mind shaking it to mix it all together and having it shatter all over the school room floor. No, salads in jars are just not a good idea for kiddo’s (IMO).
That said, I took the general concept with this lunch box and layered the salad from dressing to lettuce to keep all the components separate and crunchy until just before serving.
If you’re going to serve salad for lunch to a child making that salad, taco salad has got to be your best bet to get them to actually eat it. And, rounding it out with a tropical tasting smoothie and a chocolate pudding cup just might put you in super mom territory. (P.S. You’re all super moms whether you pack salad in your child’s lunchbox or not!)
Here’s What to Pack
This lunch box is gluten free, processed sugar free, vegetarian and nut free.
This is a vegetarian taco salad and gets it’s protein from black beans. This recipe is highly adaptable and each component can be swapped out or left out to suite your child’s needs. We love it with this easy Southwester Ranch Dressing but feel free to use whatever dressing you prefer. Because this salad is layered with the wet/soft stuff at the bottom and the crunchy stuff on top, it can be made up to a couple days in advance.
To me nothing goes together with Mexican-style food like a cool tropical drink. If your child is a fan of Orange Julius they will love this smoothie. The best part is this is totally make ahead. It will last for several days in the fridge and still be just as delicious as when you first made it.
Turn it into a Strawberry Sunshine Smoothie by substituting frozen strawberries for the frozen peaches.
Dried apricots are a great way to get some fibre into a little one’s diet. They are especially fun for kids because they can be flipped open like a book and stuffed with delicious goodies (try sliced cheese, almonds, or even chocolate).
Healthier Chocolate Pudding Cups
If your child is a lover of pudding cups these are an easy, homemade substitute. They are made healthier with honey (instead of sugar) and coconut oil (instead of butter). We like to top ours with fresh fruit like strawberries, cherries or raspberries. It’s an easy way to change it up and add some freshness. Bonus: this is dairy free so it can be enjoyed by those with a lactose intolerance.
Lunch Box Taco Salad
All ingredients are optional and can be adapted to what you have on hand.
- 1/2 cup southwestern ranch dressing (half recipe)
- 1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 lime
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped
- 1 medium sized tomato
- 1/2 bell pepper (desired colour)
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1/2-1 jalapeño
- 1 cup shredded cheese
- 6 cups mixed greens, loosely packed
- 2 cups crushed tortilla chips
Divide dressing evenly between 4 tupperware containers. In a small bowl stir together black beans, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Cut lime in half. Squeeze one half over beans. Stir to coat. Divide mixture between the containers. Squeeze the other half of the lime over the chopped avocado. Stir well to coat (this will keep them from browning). Divide evenly between containers. Divide remaining ingredients between containers in the order they are listed (this will help things from becoming soggy). (You can store tortilla chips separately if desired). Shake to combine before serving.
Makes: 4 servings
Pack in a thermos to keep cold in the lunch box.
- 1 mango, chopped
- 2 cup frozen peaches
- 1 ripe banana, peeled
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place all ingredients in a blender. Cover and process until smooth. Divide between containers, cover and refrigerate. Will keep for several days in the fridge.
Makes: 4.5 cups (4-6 servings)
Healthier Chocolate Pudding Cups
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2.5 cups coconut milk
- 4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped (semi-sweet or bittersweet will also work)
- 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil (optional: gives it a silkier texture and a more pronounced coconut flavour)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
Whisk together honey, cornstarch, salt, and eggs until combined. Slowly whisk in coconut milk, until evenly combined. Cook, over medium heat, until mixture is boiling and thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, stir in chocolate, coconut oil and vanilla until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove any egg that may have cooked. Pour into small jars or tupperware containers (or in one large bowl and spoon out to serve). Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding while it cools, if desired (this prevents the dreaded pudding skin from forming). Refrigerate for several hours before serving.
Makes: 3.5 cups (7, 1/2 cup servings)