By Liz Westinghouse, RD
You’re running late. The bus comes in five minutes and you have all you can do to get the kids dressed, shoes on and then you remember that you have to pack lunches yet. As a mom of a grade-schooler myself, I don’t know who hasn’t found themselves in this situation at one time or another. Sure, we all want to fancy ourselves Pinterest-worthy lunch packers, but desperate times don’t mean you need to rely on snack packs and lunchables. Coming from the working mom of a picky eater who still wants her little one to eat healthy during the day, here are some grab and go ideas for your child’s (and maybe your hubby’s) lunch box:
- Purchased pre-cut veggies (found in the produce section – so easy!) with a individually sized hummus pack
- Good-quality cold cuts, such as Boars Head or Applegate Farms and cheddar cheese roll ups
- Low-sodium canned soup heated up in a thermos (Like Amy’s Organic Lentil Vegetable)
- Tuna or chicken salad (Short on time? Use low sodium canned chicken to make your chicken salad) with multi-grain crackers
- Celery sticks and an apple with an individually sized peanut butter pack. Peanut butter is a great source of good fats and protein – choose one without added oils and sugars. Feel free to use sunflower seed butter if your school or classroom is peanut-free.
- Peanut butter and banana on a whole-wheat wrap – this tastes yummy drizzled with local honey and cinnamon if you have the time. Roll up and cut in half, or cut in ½” slices to make it look like sushi.
- High protein muffins made on the weekend with an apple. I love this recipe for Carrot Ginger Muffins, courtesy of Savory Lotus.
- Ants on a log – peanut butter filled celery sticks with raisins. This is a classic favorite and makes lunch feel fun and silly.
- Plain yogurt mixed with vanilla and cinnamon with their favorite fruits and granola.
Sides and Snacks
- Veggies can be very little prep, provide a crunch and when paired with their favorite dip/dressing, can turn a picky eater into a veggie lover. Favorites are baby carrots, sugar snap peas, snow peas, broccoli florets, celery sticks and green beans…all of which you can find already prepped in your produce section.
- Fruits! Crazy good sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber, plus that sweet taste kids crave. Many fruits are easy to prep and send. Grapes, apple slices, berries, bananas and peeled oranges can be sent in a sealed bag or even wrapped in a paper towel and give your kids a refreshing end to their meal
- Air-popped popcorn that you can easily make and send in a Ziploc – don’t want to make yourself? There are some great bagged popcorns available now.
- Good quality cheese sticks, such as mozzarella or cheddar – forget the American cheese and choose something with a little more nutritional punch.
- Want a grab-and-go drink? Many juice companies are making pouches with filtered water and a touch of juice. Flavor and makes your kids feel like they fit in with their classmates. Juicy Juice brand makes a great one.
All in all, lunch will always require a little bit of prep and of course, making sure that you have lunch foods in the house (yeah, we’ve all run across that kind of morning). Make a weekly lunch roadmap so that you know what you need and enjoy surprising your little one with a fun (and healthy) lunch, that just might delight them more than you’d think!
Liz Westinghouse is a Registered Dietitian and thyroid-cancer survivor, who lives in Saugerties with her 7-year old daughter, hubby and new baby boy. A typical type-A, she has numerous projects that she works; her favorite being Rooted Nutrition, a food, nutrition and supplement consulting business that she started with her husband to help local families navigate their nutritional needs with. Keep up with Rooted Nutrition on Facebook.