No matter what you put in your child’s lunch, whether you’re packing them gourmet meals or simple snacks, it’s important to fill their bellies with whole grains, lean proteins and lots of fruits and vegetables.

LUNCHBOX POWER PLAYERS

 No matter what you put in your child’s lunch, whether you’re packing them gourmet meals or simple snacks, it’s important to fill their bellies with whole grains, lean proteins and lots of fruits and vegetables.

Below are the basic elements and how to turn them into healthy school lunch treats.

Carbohydrates:

  • Whole grain crackers- Kashi makes a great Heart to Heart whole grain cracker
  • Whole grain pretzels- Herrs is a great brand
  • Annie’s Organic Cheddar Bunnies- an alternative to our friend the Goldfish
  • Rice cakes- Lundberg brand makes wild-rice and brown rice versions for added health benefits
  • Cooked brown rice balls- prepare on a Sunday and send to school throughout the week!
  • Left over whole grain pasta
  • Granola bars- if time permits, make your own using my Whole Grain Cereal Bars recipe!
  • Homemade breads- Pumpkin Swirled Sweet Bread, Zucchini Bread, or others
  • Dry whole grain cereal
  • Whole grain pitas
  • Whole grain pancakes- Kashi brand makes a frozen toaster version that can be made in the morning

Noticing a trend with the whole grain? Whole grains have heart healthy fibers and tummy fillers to keep your child satisfied!

Fruits and Veggies:

  • Apple slices- dipped in pineapple or lemon juice to prevent browning
  • Strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries- look for what is in season
  • Dried fruits- look for brands without added sugars, sprinkle with your own spices like cinnamon
  • Cherries
  • Bananas
  • Melon- probably only available the first month of school
  • Applesauce- opt for organic here
  • Oranges and Clementine’s
  • Carrot sticks- cut your own from the large carrots at the grocery to save money
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Bell peppers
  • Cucumber
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Green beans
  • Frozen peas and corn- will thaw throughout the day and be edible by lunch!

Try to buy what’s in season whenever possible. You will notice in the winter that these fruits and vegetables are not as available and when they are they’re more expensive.  When that’s the case, look for frozen or dried versions. Also make sure to buy organic when possible.

Dairy

  • Organic yogurt
  • Organic cheese cubes
  • Organic cheese sticks

Dairy can be tricky when trying to keep a lunchbox cool… be sure to store these in the coldest, darkest place in the lunchbox

Protein

  • Left over dinner meat- chicken and turkey are great for sandwiches
  • Organic deli meats- traditional versions can be packed with loads of preservatives and sodium
  • Beans
  • Organic nut butters- store upside down in the fridge to skip stirring!
  • Tofu- find recipes your child will enjoy like tofu salad (prepared like egg salad)
  • Organic hard-boiled eggs