It’s back to school season! This year, not only have you committed to eating better, but you’re also trying to implement healthier eating habits for the family as well. Send your kids to school with a delicious and nutrition-packed lunch that will give them the energy to keep learning all day at school. Expand from the familiar PB&J with these fresh ideas for packing healthier lunches for your kids.
Wrap and Roll It
Deconstruct the typical turkey and Swiss sandwich by cutting turkey and cheese into squares than can be paired up with a zip bag of whole grain crackers. On another day, make it a wrap: Spread a whole grain tortilla with mustard or mayonnaise, layer on turkey, ham or tuna salad, fold over each side and roll up like a burrito.
Give Pasta Salad a Punch
If you have macaroni and cheese lovers in your house, surprise them with a cold, healthy version by mixing up a batch of pasta salad that includes a spoon or two of peas, broccolini or other veggies. Add in a little protein with cubed cheese, diced turkey or chopped hard boiled eggs. This easy, make-ahead lunch is best packed in an insulated thermos to keep it fresh and cold.
Make it colorful
If everything in your child’s lunchbox is one color (white and bland), it probably doesn’t look very appetizing. Build in some bright fruits such as green apples, purple grapes, red cherries or mandarin oranges. You can also pack vibrant vegetables, such as sliced green cucumbers/celery, orange pepper slices, spiralized yellow squash and purple baby carrots to provide an array of healthy vitamins and minerals. Which brings us to our next tip…
If your kid is picky about eating vegetables, give them something healthy to dip it in, such as hummus, guacamole or a savory Greek yogurt. You can even pack some peanut butter or raisins to complement celery sticks or apple slices. You’ll find small containers in the food storage aisle at the supermarket that are just right for holding the perfect amount of dip. Just be sure to include a cold pack to make sure everything stays nice and cool.
Let the kids make their own lunch the night below – dole out individual whole wheat pizza crust along with healthy toppings like marinara sauce, low fat shredded mozzarella, olives, grape tomatoes, mushrooms. After a quick run under the broiler, wrap in foil and refrigerate.
Break Out Some New Bread
Nothing wrong with PB and J – but the combo gets a new life when nestled in a pita, spread onto naan, or schmeared onto a bagel. And don’t be afraid to experiment with a mix of almond or cashew butter, fruit spread, mashed banana or diced peaches. Or, for a different sandwich, try a filling of smashed avocado, sprouts, sunflower seeds and a squeeze of lemon.
Bonus: Use some fun cookie cutter shapes on the sandwich to give your kids a smile when they open their lunchbox.
Bag the Snacks
Trade the usual fried potato/tortilla chips for baked potato or vegetable chips, rice crackers or even fresh popcorn.
Add Something Sweet
Fresh whole fruit, or juice-packed single serve fruit cups make for healthy, portable desserts. For a boost of calcium, freeze individual yogurt/pudding cups overnight and your kids can enjoy a spoon-able smoothie by lunch. Trail mix, fig bars and oatmeal raisin cookies are another way to sneak in a little more fruit and fiber.
Edited by Kari - Jenny Craig