In addition to getting everyone off to school on time each morning, packing your child’s lunch is a challenge that parents face each and every week. Trying to introduce variety can be difficult from a planning standpoint, and if your child has particular likes and dislikes. But mixing it up is important from a nutritional standpoint, and to avoid mealtime burnout on the regular old PB&J or turkey sandwich.
Here are three ideas for easy lunches that are well-balanced, nutrient-rich and offer a variety of flavors and textures.
Not Your Usual Brown Bag Lunch
- Salmon salad or tuna salad made with Greek yogurt and rolled into a fiber-rich wrap with tomatoes and fresh spinach leaves provide whole grains, protein and veggies all in one portable, hand-held sandwich.
- Sides like Triscuit Thins or Parmesan Crisps are crunchy snack add-ins with a boost of fiber, or protein and calcium.
- Siggi’s or Oikos Triple Zero are flavored varieties of Greek yogurt that are high in protein and lower in sugar than most flavored yogurts.
- Apple slices with a Sunbutter Sunflower Butter Pack, or sub for peanut butter or almond butter packet.
- String cheese is a good source of protein and calcium.
- Hummus snack-pack with Beanitos are a good source of protein and fiber. Beanitos taste like traditional corn chips but are made with white or black beans.
- Nuun tablets for water bottles are electrolyte-rich, all-natural, with no artificial sweeteners or colors. Added bonus: They’re low in sugar.
Build Your Own “Lunchables”
- Whole-grain crackers like Triscuits or a whole grain sandwich thin topped with a square of cheese and sliced turkey. You can also sub chicken, nitrite-free ham, chicken sausage or any other lean protein.
- Dipping vegetables with high protein ranch dip, which you can make yourself using a pint of plain Greek yogurt mixed with a packet of Ranch dip mix.
It’s okay to pack a not-so-healthy treat with your child’s lunch but try to keep the majority of options healthy especially to keep your child fueled throughout the school day. Try to incorporate at least one source of protein, a whole grain, fruit and/or vegetable or source of calcium. To keep kids interested, get them involved in the planning process. Ask them to write out at least five lunch menus that they really like, with your help if necessary.
Editors note: This article was originally published on Aug 20, 2014. The information featured appeared on a segment on WWL-TV New Orleans. Be inspired to live your strongest, healthiest life! Subscribe to Molly's podcast FUELED | wellness + nutrition for the latest trends and research related to your body and mind.