Tips for Packing Quick Healthy Lunches

Healthy Food Choices in Schools September 19, 2014 Print Friendly and PDF

Are your kids tired of eating PB&J every day?  Do you dread packing lunches? Packing lunch does not have to be a chore. You and your kids can follow these simple steps to pack a quick, healthy lunch!

TIPS FOR STAYING HEALTHY

  • Choose whole-grains. This doesn’t have to be bread. Try something new by packing quinoa, brown rice or whole-grain pita pockets instead.
  • Protein doesn’t have to mean meat. Beans, hummus, and nuts are all great sources of protein
  • Stay away from cold-cuts. These are sneaky sources of sodium. Choose grilled chicken, egg whites, or lean pork instead.
  • Opt for low-fat dairy products.
  • Mix it up with different fruit preparations. Fruit leathers and fruit sauces are both great alternatives to fresh fruit. Be sure that they are low in added sugar.
  • Pack a veggie dip. Make vegetables more fun and tasty for your kids by providing a veggie dip. For a protein-packed dip, try hummus and veggie sticks.
  • Avoid added sugars, trans-fats, and saturated fats in snacks. Instead of cookies and chips, keep your kids full with popcorn without the butter, fruit chips or string cheese.
  • Make lunch fun. Instead of packing a regular sandwich, place the sandwich components on a stick to make a kabob.

TIPS FOR SAVING TIME

  • Organize by portion sizes. Sort out your fruits and veggies for the week by putting daily portions into plastic bags, or freeze single-servings of soup for quick reheating in the morning.
  • Lunch bin in the pantry. No more searching for granola bars all over the pantry as you pack lunch. Keep your snacks, juice boxes, and fruit cups all together in a bin to make a quick grab-and-go lunch.
  • Bento box style. You won’t forget about a food group by using these lunch boxes. Use one compartment for fruit, one for veggies, and one for protein, grains, and dairy.
  • Pack ahead.  Make lunches the night before, or even several days in advance. This can be a big time saver in the morning!

RESOURCES

Momables- How to Prep for the Week in One Afternoon

Alphamom How to Make a Kid's Bento Box

RECIPES – Click on each dish for the recipe

Grilled chicken veggie bowls

Peanut butter and banana roll-ups

Baked apple chips

Black bean and corn salad


Contributors

Bertilia Trieu and Tisa Hill, Cornell University


 

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USDA / NIFA

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.