Whole Story

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Building Bunches of Nutritious Lunches

To help power an afternoon of learning and growing, experts say a nutritious lunch should include lots of fiber and whole grains, some protein and healthy fat, a veggie and just a bit of natural sugar, like a piece of fresh fruit. Easier said than done, you may be thinking. How do you get them to eat it? Our best advice is to get kids involved in the lunch-making process. They have a vested interest in what goes in their lunch, so team up with them and put that advantage to good use. Ask them: Would you like grapes or apple slices? Black bean dip or hummus? Sliced turkey or ham? Carrots or celery? Woven wheat crackers or whole wheat tortilla? Providing nutritious choices sets them up for success. They get control over choosing and you get the piece of mind in knowing that they are more likely to eat the good food you’ve packed together. Another favorite lunch tip is to do the lunch selection and prep work on the weekend, or at least the night before. Anything to avoid a chaotic morning rush, right?! It also helps to have your kids choose one main thing that they are going have for lunch every day that week. Variety is great but so is sanity — no need to stress and turn yourself into a short order cook. (After all, some kids like to eat the same exact sandwich every single day of the school year!) You can change up the “sides” every other day to provide some variety. So if your kid likes tuna salad, they can eat it for five days in a row and then have something different the next week. This makes shopping and packing lunches way easier and this way food doesn’t go to waste. Win-win, right? Here are just a handful of lunch ideas:
  • Whole wheat tortillas spread with peanut butter and sprinkled with raisins or dried cherries, rolled up and cut in two.
  • Hummus and spinach wrap, cherry tomatoes with string cheese, and yogurt.
  • Baked corn chips, black beans, cheese wedges and fresh pico de gallo with jicama sticks.
  • Whole wheat or buckwheat noodles with peanut sauce, sugar snap peas, a pear, almonds and a fortune cookie.
  • Tuna salad with grated carrots, served with crackers or in a pita.
  • Cheese triangles served with pepperoni and whole wheat crackers for stacking.
  • Vegetarian brown rice sushi rolls with soy or ponzu sauce.
  • Smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumbers on mini bagels.
  • Shumai dumplings/potstickers packed cold with ponzu sauce or peanut sauce.
Take a look at this video we put together with The Container Store for even more lunch ideas, cool containers to pack them in and a chance to win a $100 gift card from The Container Store (contest ends August 24th). What are some of your (and your kids’) favorite packed lunches and lunch-packing tips?

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8 comments

Comments

Carol says …

Fresh cucumbers, tomatoes and basil from the garden sliced & sprinkled with basalmic vinegar and fresh home made tomato soup, yum

Tamara says …

Great video! I really need all of those products! Thank you everyone for lunch ideas as well. I have a five year old that is so picky and will not eat any sandwich so I have had the hardest time trying to come up with good ideas. I feel guilty if I send him with junk food. I will send him with frozen grapes, yogurt, carrots, blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries- his favorites, I was also thinking maybe some whole grain pizza made on our pizza stone, or whole grain pasta. With an organic milk or juice.

Elizabeth says …

Peanut butter with organic apples and pretzels for dipping.

ErikaM says …

Chicken curry salad in a pita with iced chai to drink. Yum!

Elizabeth says …

Chips, queso and bell peppers.

Melissa says …

We like shrimp with stirfried snap peas and carrot. Cold grilled salmon is also a favorite.

Mike Hickey says …

Shumai dumplings? We didn't have that growing up. Thanks for the lunch ideas. I don't agree with 5 days of tuna, even if they like it.

Anita Strauss says …

I love packing my lunch in bento box lunch boxes. That way I can have a lot of different finger foods to snack on while I'm at my computer at work.