Thursday, September 1, 2011

Your Secret Ingredient Lunch Box Learning: Some Fresh Ideas…

As the summer winds down, I always love the back-to-school feeling. Although I was always sad to see the summer go, I loved getting all my books and supplies ready for school; and hanging out with my friends from home again. But one thing I do remember about going back to school is the hardship of thinking of ideas for lunches to bring to school. Now that I’m an adult, it’s still hard sometimes, especially with dinner to think about too. Here is a start to a new series we are launching this Fall called Lunch Box Learning where we will give you some fresh ideas for lunches (and dinners) for back-to-school (and for us adults, too).

Why Have You Done a Good Thing?

Packing lunches for your kids can help improve concentration during the school day, as well as ensure that your kids are eating a nutritious meal. ‘Cause let’s face it, school lunches are not the best or at least not as good as you can provide for them. When you know what goes into their food, you know it is a healthy choice. Making lunch fun and interesting

Same goes for you adults. Planning for lunch when you grocery shop, not just dinner, helps you out a lot. Instead of wasting money on a store-bought salad or school lunch everyday, bringing fresh foods from home is not only more economical but healthier too. Restaurants often sneak in unhealthy, extra calories. Research shows that people that bring food from home or eat more dinners at home weigh less and have an easier time with weight maintenance.

Lunch Box Meals

Healthy sandwich made on whole wheat bread or stuffed in a whole wheat pita pocket. To make sandwiches extra fun for kids, use cookie cutters to make fun sandwich shapes! Pack with a side of fruit or easy sliced veggies like cucumbers, peppers, carrots, sugar snap peas, snow peas, or green beans. See filler ideas listed here:
  • 1 tbsp of hummus with cucumbers
  • A few slices of roasted or rotisserie chicken with lettuce
  • Homemade egg salad or tuna salad made with lite mayo
  • Homemade chicken salad with grapes and lite mayo
  • 2-3 slices of organic turkey or other organic cold cuts (suggest Applegate Farms or Whole Foods in-house made meats)
  • Soy nut butter and banana

Sushi roll-ups: For a fun spin on sandwiches, pack sandwich fillings in a whole wheat wrap and roll into a long log. Slice into 2 inch pieces, like sushi!

1 hardboiled egg with low-fat string cheese or Baby Bell cheese with sliced fruit and veggies.

Pasta salad with diced grilled or rotisserie chicken, 1 slice of cheese or beans with veggies

1 Sabra Individual Hummus container or bean dips with sliced veggies and whole wheat crackers (suggest Kashi TLC crackers) with sliced fruit

Ants on a log: celery with soy nut butter and raisins

Thermos ideas (to keep warm for lunch time!)

  • Soup or chili with a side of whole wheat crackers
  • Quesadillas – 2 whole wheat tortillas with melted cheese and sliced peppers in between. Dip in a side of guacamole.
  • Homemade mac and cheese (or Annie’s lower sodium varieties) or baked ziti
  • Grilled cheese strips to dip in a side of salsa or tomato soup

Look out for more additions to the Lunch Box Learning series this Fall!

--Amy Santo, MS RD CDN

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