Ah, schooldays. Public school, private school, homeschool, unschool, field trips, sporting events, and extra-curricular activities. This time of year, it seems like parents everywhere are thinking about what to eat while on the go.
Whether you're packing a lunch to go or preparing lunch to eat at home, midday meals tend to necessitate the need for quick, tidy, and portable food. If you're the parent of a child who deals with food allergies, or you have to pack for a specific healing diet such as GAPS, or you just want to provide a wholesome, nutritious meal for children away from home — packing a lunch can feel like an absolute chore. Especially as the school year marches on.
Fermented foods are one of the best ways to pack a nutritional punch in any meal. And they're an essential part of many gut-healing diets, so adding fermented foods to a school lunch is a simple addition. The problem lies in knowing what to pack and how to provide variety.
This post will help you make the most of your child's school lunch with fermented foods — without adding lots of prep time.
Many of these foods take less than five minutes to prepare and are truly grab-and-go (such as the yogurt cups). Most of these require just a small amount of time to plan ahead and make (such as the apple chutney or homemade string cheese). However, some do take at least 30 minutes to prepare (such as the crackers or dosas). I've included these anyway because one batch supplies several lunches, so if you have enough time, they are worth it.
Here's to easy, healthy lunch packing!
If you'd like to know more about fermented foods or learn how easy it is to prepare them, check out all the fermentation class here at Traditional Cooking School, our Lacto-Fermentation eBook, or Wardee's book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fermenting Foods.
Fermented Finger Foods
- Dilly Carrot Sticks (definitely a kid favorite!)
- Dilly Beans
- Pickled Asparagus (my kids love these)
- Olives (or check out recipes in our class or Wardee's book)
- Pickled Radishes (or Radish Pods)
One note of caution about sending kombucha in school lunches: kombucha can have a very small alcoholic content (typically about 0.05%), and according to the Healthy Home Economist, there is at least one documented case in the US of a child being suspended from school for bringing alcohol to school. This is rare, but I would be remiss to not mention the potential legal ramifications.
- Homemade Fruit-on-the-Bottom Yogurt Cups
- Cottage Cheese
- Frozen Kefir Pops (freeze milk kefir in leak-proof popsicle tubes)
- Homemade String Cheese
- Feta or Queso Fresco Cheese Cubes
- Kefir or Yogurt Cheese Balls
- Cheddar Cheese Curds
- Salami (This salami is an excellent purchased option — sustainably-raised beef without any nitrates or other preservatives, additives, or colorants)
- Pickled Salmon
- Probiotic Chicken Salad
- Wild Red Salmon Salad with Lacto-Fermented Mayonnaise
- Probiotic Potato Salad
- Cultured Waldorf Salad
Lacto-Fermented Fruit Sauces
- Fermented Cranberry-Orange-Apple Relish (my kids eat this with a spoon, but it's great as a dip or relish too)
- 5-Spice Apple Chutney
- Fermented Cranberry Sauce
- Fermented Raspberry Preserves
Fermented Breads, Wraps, and Baked Goods
Please note that when baked, soured baked goods are no longer probiotic. However, those microbes make your bread more nutritious and digestible overall, so it's still a win!
- Sourdough Sandwich Bread
- Dosas: Scrumptious Lentil Wraps or Sourdough Crepes
- Sourdough English Muffins
- Sourdough Hot Dog Wraps
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Sourdough Pancakes (feel free to substitute another nut or seed butter if your school needs to be peanut-free)
- Bite Size Cranberry-Orange Sourdough Muffins
- Sourdough Pretzel Bites with Lacto-Fermented Honey Mustard
- Reuben Picnic Buns
- Sourdough Crackers
- Sourdough Pizza Crust for mini pizzas
- more recipes in our Sourdough eBook
If you don't have time to ferment, stir fresh whey from yogurt or dairy kefir into the dip. The probiotics won't be as a prolific but they will certainly pack a punch!
- Lacto-Fermented Ranch Dip
- Lacto-Fermented Salsa
- Lacto-Fermented Ketchup
- Herbed Kefir Cheese (or Yogurt Cheese) Dip
- Lacto-Fermented Hummus
- Roasted Red Pepper Lacto-Fermented Hummus
Use Fermented Spreads
Use a fermented spread on sandwiches or crackers in place of nut butter or other condiments.
- Lacto-Fermented Fig Newton Butter
- Lacto-Fermented Mayonnaise
- Homemade Cream Cheese or Labneh (Yogurt Cheese)
- Lacto-Fermented Honey Dill Mustard
What are some of your family's favorite fermented snack foods? Any tips for packing them in lunches or on the go?
Want to make your own Kombucha at home, but need a scoby (starter)? Here's the one we recommend.
Don't forget! There's more info in the fermentation class here at Traditional Cooking School, our Lacto-Fermentation eBook, or Wardee's print book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fermenting Foods. Plus, these gut health support freebies from two of our partners:
- Free gut-healing meal plans from nutritional therapist Lydia Shatney (click here, then scroll down a bit until you see the image for these, then click on it)
- Free 30-Day GAPS Guide from GAPS practitioner Melanie Christner (click here, then look near the top of the page for the signup)
This post was featured in 82 Ways To Heal Your Gut.
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