A nutritious brown bag lunch is not only easy to prepare, but economical and healthier than the usual cafeteria fare or fast-food options. Not to mention, a good midday meal can help bolster those notorious mid-day slumps and keep you on your game. Here are a few tips for bagging a healthy lunch.
Think Outside the Box
The healthiest lunches should contain foods from three different food groups: a protein, whole grain, and a fruit and/or vegetable. However, this doesn’t mean you’re stuck with the traditional sandwich, fruit, and milk. Consider getting a reusable bento box style container with three or four built-in compartments. My daughter’s preschool teacher recommends these boxes for her students. Filling each section with a different food group is a great strategy for creating a balanced meal while allowing for portion control.
In addition, an insulated thermos is good for packing hot soups or last night’s leftovers, such as that delicious whole grain spaghetti and turkey meatball dinner. Finally, don’t forget to include a reusable water bottle since hydration is just as important as nutrition, and nothing beats plain water.
Running short on ideas? Try…
● Hummus with baked pita chips or whole grain pretzel sticks.
● A sandwich made with whole wheat bread, a tablespoon of cream cheese and sliced fresh strawberries.
● A mini-wheat bagel with one or two tablespoons of sunflower butter or soy nut butter, and a teaspoon of fruit jam or honey. Note: Sunflower butter and soy butter are similar to peanut butter, but since they aren’t tree nuts they don’t fall under the same allergic restrictions.
● Greek yogurt squeezer tubes. These are high in protein, but make sure they are all natural with no added food coloring. Include whole grain crackers.
● Mock pizza rolls. Take whole grain flat breads, add your favorite pre-made pizza sauce, a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese, and a few veggie toppings. Roll and slice into bite-sized spirals.
● Hardboiled eggs, cubes of baked tofu, cottage cheese, and edamame are all great sources of protein. Choose one and serve with buttered whole wheat toast.
Now you can come up with some of your own combos!