10 kid-friendly lunches to make in under 10 minutes
In a recent study, school cafeteria lunches were found to be healthier than homemade lunches. One of the reasons school lunches fared better in the “healthy and nutritious” category was limits set around sweets and high-fat food in schools. The reasons lunch boxes fell from favor? More salt and fewer fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and the presence of desserts, sugary drinks, or snack chips packed inside.
You can make sure your homemade lunches are equally as healthy as school lunches by setting your own nutrition guidelines for packing. Make them fast in the morning by doing a little bit of preparation the night before, like washing and chopping fruit and veggies (they take the most time!).
These rules will help keep homemade lunches healthy and nutritious:
- Select your entrée (sandwich, leftovers, or other main dish, like hummus and pita).
- Always pack a fruit or a veggie (or both!).
- Always rely on water or milk (purchased from school) to drink.
- Go for healthy fats (olives, avocado).
- Add in a low-fat crunch (optional).
- Keep the sweets petite and optional.
Here are 10 lunchbox ideas that are high on health and low on sugar and fat:
1. Hummus with whole wheat pita triangles; sliced apple; carrot and cucumber sticks; black olives; water; small cookie (optional).
2. Whole wheat tortilla sushi roll-ups: Spread tortilla with low fat cream cheese, top with pre-bagged shredded broccoli and carrots, roll up into a tube, and slice into “sushi” pinwheels; sliced strawberries; 4 ounces yogurt; water.
3. English muffin pizza: top 1/2 English muffin with tomato paste, mozzarella cheese, and turkey pepperoni slices; watermelon cubes; a brownie bite; and water.
4. Nut butter sandwich: spread nut butter on a slice of whole grain bread and top with thinly sliced banana. Place other slice of bread on top to make a sandwich; cut into four pieces; baked potato chips; small box of yogurt-covered raisins; water.
5. Turkey and cheese: roll up 2 slices of turkey and serve alongside a low fat mozzarella cheese stick; peeled clementine; pickle spear; single serving of popcorn; water.
6. Yogurt and fruit: 6 ounces of vanilla- or banana-flavored yogurt (Greek or other); blueberries and chopped strawberries; sunflower seeds; graham cracker sticks; water.
7. Mini bagel with cream cheese (1 or 2 depending on age of child); sugar snap peas, grape tomatoes and edamame; applesauce; water.
8. Vegetable soup in a thermos; 4-6 whole grain crackers; cheddar cheese square; red, yellow, and orange pepper slices; dried mango, and water.
9. Chicken salad (made with low-fat mayonnaise and chopped celery); rye crisps or Wasa crispbread; low-fat cheese stick; a bunch of green grapes; cucumber rounds; water.
10. Noodles in a Thermos (use leftover dinner noodles, add peas, butter and parmesan cheese); raisins; and 6 ounces of smoothie or kefir.
Remember, if you prep ahead and pack up your leftovers the night before, you’ll save a lot of time in the morning!