Submitted by Kelly Devine Rickert, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, Registered Dietitian/Health Coach, Franciscan WELLCARE
It’s back to school time again, and time to start packing those healthy lunches. Whether you are a parent packing lunches for your children, or just trying to learn what foods to pack in your lunch, here are some helpful tips to get you started.
- First things first, get some supplies! Start with a lunchbox/cooler, refreezeable packs that keep your lunch and snacks cold, dishwasher safe plastic containers, and plastic baggies.
- Next up, GO SHOPPING! At least once a week! If you don’t have the food in your house, then you can’t bring it with or pack the kids a healthy lunch.
- Planning is key. If you are not a morning person, then pack your lunch and snacks at home the night before.
- Bringing healthy low fat foods from home can help you with weight loss or weight maintenance, help you to save money, and keep you energized throughout the day.
- Whether you are a child eating a high fat school lunch or an adult who gets fast foods each day, it doesn’t matter … what you eat at lunch will affect your concentration and energy levels the rest of your afternoon. Why not eat a meal that will leave you satisfied, and not feeling like you want to take a nap!?!
- Always pack a lunch AND afternoon snack. Parents, if your child comes home after school, have healthy snacks on hand. If they have after school activities, pack a snack with their lunch.
Some lunch ideas…
- A whole grain turkey sandwich or wrap (with either light mayo or low fat cheese), a fruit or vegetables, and one side item (light yogurt, low fat string cheese or cottage cheese, Kashi or low fat granola bar, baked chips or a 100 cal pack)
- Leftovers from dinner, 3-6 oz lean protein, steamed vegetables and a small serving of whole grain starch (brown rice, wheat pasta, baked potato, wheat bun)
- A big salad with protein (grilled chicken, turkey or ham, egg whites, nuts, etc). Make sure you use light or low fat dressings. Be aware of the calorie pitfalls in salads, full fat dressings, cheese, croutons, bacon bits, and egg yolks.
- 3 or 6 oz tuna, 2 tbsp peanut butter or 1-2 oz low fat cheese with wheat crackers and a piece of fruit
- Lean Cuisine/healthy Choice low fat dinner meals with a light yogurt or other side item