School has been motoring along and I cannot believe Christmas break is almost here already. I know at the beginning of school, I am so excited for the kids to start again so I have lunch packed the night before, breakfast all planned, made sure that they have gathered up backpacks and such… I feel like super mom! Then as the weeks pass, I am less of super mom and more of last minute mom. I find myself relying more on grab and go and make ahead lunch items for the kids.
Just recently I saw a girl’s packed lunch that I considered fairly standard for grab and go convenience. Food companies are oh so happy to provide us with easy (not really nutritious) lunch options for last minute moms like me. But even if we are looking for convenience, it can be easy to add healthier lunch options to our grab and go list.
|Standard Brown Bag Lunch||Healthier Lunch Option|
|-PB&J on white bread
-Corn chips like Doritoes
-Juice box (8 oz.)
|-PB&J on wheat bread with no sugar PB
-Carrot sticks with hummus
-Dried vegetable chips
|3 servings grain
1 serving protein
1.5 serving fruit
37g added sugar
|2 servings grain
2 serving protein
1.5 serving fruit
2 servings vegetables
12g added sugar
This example just gives general servings but you can see the comparison. And those are pretty easy trades! Nothing too hard or tricky to make. Last minute mom can easily slice some apples and slap some PB&J together. I see pictures of those cute bento boxes online where all the fruit and vegetables are cut into shapes and everything is arranged beautifully. They seem to set the bar pretty high as far as lunch goes but simple and nutritious does not have to take so much time. It can be as easy as this example.
Take a second look at our kids’ lunchboxes (or our own!)
Are you focused only on 1 food group? A lunch bag full of grains is not exactly balanced. I make it a point to have a least 1 vegetable serving included.
Do all your foods come prepackaged from the store? There are more and more healthy packaged options at the store but most packaged lunch stuff still falls into the “occasionally” category.
Could you trade out a sugary snack for a sweet fruit instead? It is nice to have something sweet for lunch but it does not always have to been super sugary.
Would you like a flavored water just as much as juice? I know water is not always exciting but there are lots of options for water flavored with herbs, fruit, or citrus. Here are some recipes on Pinterest.
Is there a tasty dip that would make it more enjoyable to eat fresh veggies? If you do not like vegetable plain, you may just need a tasty dip to go with them. Here are some recipes for that on Pinterest too.
Could you put together some meals on the weekend? Recipes like those popular salad in a jar can be made in advance and then used throughout the week. And again I have some recipe ideas saved on Pinterest for you. Isn’t Pinterest great?
What leftovers could you be using for lunch? Leftovers are the super friend of lunch packing! Package them up into lunch friendly portions when you put them away and Voila! lunch is all ready.
Are there handy reusable supplies that could help? Things like a stay cold lunchbox, thermos, or food pouches will allow more variety of foods. My husband likes to eat bananas with any kind of nut butter and it is really portable and not so messy to put it in a reusable pouch (like those baby food ones).
There are tons of healthy lunch options out there so I am not going to list them all. But I have gathered a bunch of recipe ideas on Pinterest that you can browse through. A readjustment might be needed for lunches but fast and easy does not mean unhealthy.
Snacks – these could be used as sides