.Packing a lunch for school or work could potentially not only be a healthier option for you or your family but could be healthier for your pocketbook too!
When planning and preparing ahead of time, undue stress on a busy morning and poor food choices are often deflected when a plan is in place. It is a good practice to start getting in the habit of cutting up your fruits or vegetables the night before or at the beginning of the week and separate into individual, easy to grab containers. Then, when it is a busy morning, a healthy snack/lunch choice is easy and already prepared. Not only can this be with fruits and veggies but is easy to do with other snack options like pretzels, popcorn, or crackers so they can be easily added to lunches.
A packaged lunch from home, doesn’t have to be a boring sandwich! There are so many fun and innovative recipes that make it easy to mix it up and not become burnt out on packing a lunch each day. Try a tortilla or lettuce wrap around your protein of choice instead of bread or even make a meat and cheese skewer. Basic yogurt can easily be spiced up with some fruit and granola added in a small mason jar for easy travel. Here are a few ideas:
- Cucumber Tomato Salad- An easy addition to a lunch any time of year with fresh vegetables from the garden or store.
- Individual Fruit Crisp-Add a sweet treat to your lunch, while still getting in some fruit and oats!
- Mini Cucumber Sandwiches- A refreshing spin to a typical turkey sandwich but still convenient and tasty!
When our kids become involved in the process, they are more likely to eat the healthy lunch. Allow the kids to use cookie cutters to make their sandwich a fun shape every once in awhile. Fruit kabobs seem way more fun that ordinary fruit slices in a plastic bag too! Let the kids help by using a melon baller and putting on a skewer to take part in the prepping and planning. They can be your assistant in the kitchen, washing items and putting tools away as well as packaging in bags. The whole family is invested and feels included and can then help with the menu planning as well.
It’s important to include all food groups when packing our lunches. Mixing the forms of these food groups will help keep the menu interesting too.
- Fruits and vegetables: fresh, frozen, dried, or canned
- Protein: deli meat, hard boiled eggs, baked or grilled chicken, beans, nut butters, tofu
- Dairy: dairy or nondairy milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese,
- Grains: whole wheat bread, tortilla wraps, pasta, pita, crackers
If a lunch plan isn’t in place, it is easy to run and ‘grab’ lunch from a nearby restaurant. Bringing a lunch can also help stretch a monthly budget. Prepare leftovers in small manageable containers and reheat at the office the next day. At first, the grocery store bill may seem larger than previous trips. However by not eating out each day, you will notice a savings on the other end of the checkbook.
Whether you are planning for yourself or your family, packing a lunch for work or school doesn’t need to be a daunting task. It can be enjoyable and a good habit to start!