Mom wants a lunch that is healthy and will keep kids going. Junior wants a lunch that is tasty without always being the same. Both can be satisfied with these 5 suggestions.
1. Wrap it up
When any old sandwich won't do, check out wraps. There are many flavors of flat breads and tortillas available both sweet and savory which make for an easy-to-assemble lunch. Look for wraps made with whole grains and watch out for trans fats or hydrogenated oils. Pair these wraps with fillings from the complex to the simple depending on how much time you have to prep ahead. Good examples: chicken salad, baked chicken with ranch dressing and vegetables, ham and cheese slices, or even cheese and pepperoni with a splash of tomato sauce for a homemade pizza.
2. Dip in
For kids of all ages, there's often something fun about eating one food dipped in another. While the most common example of this may be fries and ketchup, there are a lot of healthy options which can serve as a lunch side dish, or the main star. Combine vegetable sticks with low-fat ranch dressing (Or even blue cheese for the adventurous), serve pita chips with cheese slices and hummus, top fruit pieces with low sugar nut butters or chocolate nut butters.
3. Leftover craze
Even though most schools don't have microwaves or other heating options there are a lot of leftovers that do well cold, or packed in an insulated mug. Pack up soups, veggie stir fry or even fried chicken as a next-day meal. Just make sure to package appropriately for any proteins which can't take the heat.
4. Play it cool
With use of an insulated lunch bag and ice packs (Try freezing a wet sponge and storing it in a ziplock sandwich bag for an easy homemade version) many refrigerator foods make for an easy, but yummy lunch. Consider cottage cheese with add-ins. This protein-packed food goes well with raw chopped fruits or vegetables and is even a great partner for low-fat yogurt, or cool off with string cheese, apple slices and almonds. For the athlete in your family consider packing up a protein instant breakfast shake or powder to go with the rest of lunch, or as a recovery snack for after practice.
5. Don't forget the classics
Peanut butter and jam sandwiches aren't only classics because they're easy, but because they are healthy and tasty, too. Nut butters are a good source of proteins and healthy fats, and a good low sugar jam introduces fiber and flavor. Look for whole wheat breads, or try making sandwiches on artesian rolls or pretzel buns for something a little different. Try unique flavors of jam to change things up, or nut butters other than peanut. For a special treat, look for nut butters with a hint of chocolate.
No matter what you choose, get your kids involved in their lunches. Teach them the basics of great nutrition and once in a while go for a great dessert to top off the week.