Packing the kids’ lunches for school means you know which nutritious foods they are eating. Here are some budget-friendly, creative ideas to keep kids happy and healthy at lunchtime:
Make a Smarter SandwichWhile some kids prefer the same thing every day, others may be OK with a slight switch to their sandwich.
- Use different breads like 100% whole wheat tortilla wraps (choose wraps low in saturated and made with no hydrogenated oils) or 100% whole wheat pita pockets.
- Besides lettuce, try shredded carrots or avocado slices with a turkey sandwich.
- Buy blocks of low fat, low-sodium cheeses. You save money when you slice it yourself. Or use a cookie cutter to cut into fun shapes.
- Instead of lunchmeat, try a leftover grilled chicken sandwich with lettuce and tomato.
- Always pack sandwiches with a mini cooler pack to keep them fresh and safe.
Love those LeftoversThink about using the leftovers from a family favorite dinner for a next day lunch. Invest in a thermos to keep foods hot or cold until the lunch bell rings. Some ideas:
- Low-sodium tomato, vegetable or bean soups
- Chili made with lean or extra lean ground turkey
- Whole wheat spaghetti with low sodium tomato sauce
- Low-sodium baked beans, bean casserole or beans & rice
Let Them DunkSometimes it’s OK to let your kids play with their food, especially when they are getting extra nutrition. Try packing one of these fun dunks with dippers:
- Apple and pear slices to dip into low fat or low-fat plain yogurt mixed with peanut butter.
- Carrot, celery and sweet pepper strips to dip into hummus, fresh salsa or homemade bean dip.
- Whole grain crackers (choose crackers low in sodium and saturated fat and made without hydrogenated oils) or slices of grilled low sodium tofu (a soybean product) to dunk into low-sodium vegetable or tomato soup.
- Unsalted sunflower seeds, crushed whole wheat cereal and sliced banana to mix into low fat vanilla yogurt (no added sugars) to eat with a spoon like a sundae.
Get Them InvolvedWhile letting kids in the kitchen might mean a bigger mess, if they help pack their lunch, they’re more likely to eat that lunch! On nights you have a bit more time, like a Sunday night, have them choose which piece of fruit or what type of whole grain bread they want and let them assemble their lunch. Make this a weekly routine – it’s another great way to spend family time together.
Article copyright © 2015 American Heart Association. This recipe is brought to you by the American Heart Association's Simple Cooking with Heart © Program. For more articles and simple, quick and affordable recipes, visit heart.org/simplecooking.
Last reviewed 1/2015