It’s not as easy as you think to pack a great school lunch all year long. These ideas for packing healthy, nutritious lunches (and what to carry them in!) will come in handy.
Packing school lunches can seem fun at first. But soon after the start of the year, it becomes quite a chore. Before that happens, start using these easy ideas to pack your kids simply delicious lunches that are healthy too.
Rachel Berman, Director of Nutrition for CalorieCount.com, a free health and wellness website with more than 4 million members, suggests these mega meals for better lunches for the kids:
- Use a half of whole-wheat pita bread or hamburger buns.
- Add deli sliced meat (turkey breast is a good option).
- Slice a tomato, cucumbers, bell peppers, etc., and place on the buns/in the pita.
Why it’s healthy: “Choosing whole wheat (vs. white) provides more nutrients since the bran and germ weren’t stripped during processing, and nutrients weren’t lost along with them. Fiber is plentiful, which is good for digestive health,” says Berman. The deli slices also provide protein and the vegetables come with lots of nutrients too, she says.
- Spread a ripe avocado into the inside of a split whole-wheat pita bread.
- Grill (or cook in the oven if grilling isn’t available) chicken breast or meat cut into strips (like shawarma style).
- Cut carrots, bell peppers and other veggies into strips and place into the pita with the chicken.
Why it’s healthy: “Chicken has a variety of vitamins/minerals (tryptophan: increases brain serotonin, helps us sleep better… niacin: good for the skin, helps in the conversion of food to energy… phosphorus: for bones and teeth… selenium: an antioxidant… vitamin B6: metabolizing protein),” says Berman. The fiber-rich avocado and nutrient-rich veggies round this out too.
- Use a whole-wheat tortilla or a whole-wheat pita split in half.
- Spread peanut butter (or any type of nut butter) on the tortilla/pita.
- Slice various fruits like bananas and strawberries and place on top, and then wrap the tortilla/pita.
- Can be packed with carrot sticks.
Why it’s healthy: “Peanut butter provides protein and fiber [and] contains Vitamin E as an antioxidant, and many minerals, including iron (hemoglobin formation) and calcium (healthy bones),” says Berman. As for the fruit, it’s a “good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber (strawberries and bananas provide insoluble fiber). Good source of antioxidants and phytochemicals,” says Berman.
Cute lunchboxes to pack it all in
What will your kids be carrying their lunches in? The classic paper bag is fine and easy. But having their own lunch box can make the lunches even more fun for kids. These cute lunch boxes are perfect for back-to-school.
1. Hey, Beaba
Looking for something that can be tossed about, stuffed into backpacks and lockers and still protect its contents? Try the Beaba Lunch Box Sorbet. It can hold a complete lunch within its convenient compartments. (ToysRUs, $30)
2. Laptop for lunch
Want something sturdy that is also easy to carry? The Laptop Lunches Bento 2.0 is the best of both worlds. It has a hard-sided internal container and a soft-sided carrier with handles. Your kids will love the variety that it packs. (LaptopLunches.com, $40)
3. Double decker
The L.L. Bean Double Flip-Top Lunchbox is so convenient, with its room for both a lunch kept cold and all the accoutrements needed to consume it. The handy top handle and shoulder strap, as well as the flat bottom, ensure that it’s also kept upright too (reduced spillage!). (LLBean.com, $25)
4. Lunch bunch
Looking for something with a sweet sophistication for your teen? Try the Vera Bradley Lunch Bunch Rosy Posies, which will fit a thermos and whatever else she needs. And if you need to borrow it? Well, this is one lunch box you won’t mind carrying. (VeraBradley.com, $30)