You don’t have to resort to school or store-bought meals if you want an easy way to provide a healthy lunch. It takes some organization, but there are packed-lunch menus that are easy to prepare, even if you’re running late. The key is to balance nutrition and taste in each lunch, or the food may end up in the school garbage can.
Peanut Butter Sandwich
Give a classic kid’s lunch a healthy twist to keep it filling, satisfying and well-balanced. Lightly smear low-fat peanut butter onto a piece of whole-wheat bread and cover with banana slices. Lightly smear low-sugar jam onto a second piece of wheat bread and top the sandwich. Pack the sandwich with an individual serving of low-fat flavored yogurt to boost the protein content of the meal. Pack a baggy of pickle or carrot spears to bulk up the lunch. Add a chocolate chip cookie, stored in a lidded container to prevent crushing, for dessert.
Take advantage of whole-wheat tortillas to create a lunch that breaks away from the whole sandwich thing. Spread the tortilla with a favored condiment, such as ranch salad dressing, and layer with smoked ham lunch meat. Add diced Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and cucumbers to the ham. Roll the tortilla up tightly and spear with a toothpick. Pack an individual serving of natural applesauce and a baggy of baby carrots to help balance out the lunch. Add a small container of light vanilla or chocolate pudding to pack extra protein into the dessert.
Take the chill off your little ones on a wintery day with warm thermoses of chili packed in their lunches. Sprinkle the low-fat chili with shredded cheddar cheese and secure the lid on the thermos. Pack a baggy of whole-wheat crackers to help sop up the chili, and a container of orange segments for easy munching. Add a couple of oatmeal raisin cookies with light icing for a sweet treat. Include a baggy of bell pepper slices with a small side of creamy salad dressing to make the lunch last longer into the day.
Chicken Waldorf Salad
Fortify a basic Waldorf salad with chicken to create quick meal that combines lean protein and fresh fruit into a salad that even picky kids will gobble up. Place the cut-up chicken in a plastic container. Mix mayonnaise, diced celery, diced carrots, diced apples, sliced grapes and chopped walnuts into the chicken. Pack a baggy of whole-wheat pretzels and a stick of low-fat string cheese to round out the menu. Sprinkle sliced strawberries with sugar and pack them with an individual flavored gelatin cup for an easy dessert.
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