Healthy Lunches For Families on The Go
A Little Preparation Goes A Long Way
You don't need to spend hours in the kitchen cooking and prepping lunches, or tons of money on prepared foods, but with just a bit of effort you can put together healthy lunch items in no time. Here are some ideas:
- Prep veggies for dips like carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers- have them sliced and ready to go with hummus, peanut butter, yogurt, or whatever your family likes. Keep small containers on hand to fill with your dips and veggies for easy night before prep.
- String cheese- a great way to get some good protein and calcium. Trying to save money? Buy block cheese and cut it yourself to make your own "string cheese". Individually wrap in plastic wrap and they're ready when you need them.
- Make ahead sandwiches- make as many sandwiches as you will need each week on Sunday. Meat and cheeses or PB & J are good ones to do ahead. Save little packages of mayonnaise or mustard so send with lunch so the bread doesn't get soggy. Wrap lettuce and tomato separately as well.
- Sliced cucumbers with sliced cheese is great to dip in mustard or your other favorite condiment and can easily be put together a couple of days in advanced.
- Slice up fruit and place in individual containers so they can be grabbed easily for lunches.
- Individual yogurts or yogurt sticks.
- Pre-make salads, but leave off the dressing. Bring your dressing in a small container.
- Put together individual bags of containers of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, or your own trail mix with whatever you have on hand.
- Save dinner leftovers in lunch size containers to take for lunch.
Think of healthy foods your family likes to eat and come up with ways to prepare them for lunch. Get creative and find ways to make your favorite packaged foods yourself- saves you money and is a much healthier option.
Fit a Meal and Drink in Packit
Get The Right Lunch Bag
In my family, we all use a Packit for our lunches. Packit is a freezable lunch bag that can keep food and drinks cold for up to 10 hours. Instead of needing a separate ice pack for a lunch box or lunch bag to keep food and drinks cold, Packit is the ice pack. The entire bag folds down for you to freeze in your freezer. When you're ready to use it you take Pack-It out, place your food and drinks inside and it keeps everything cold.
All the sides of Packit are filled with a freezable gel so the contents of the bag stay cold and fresh. It is non-toxic, so it's safe for everyone in my family.
Get a Thermos
Being able to enjoy a nice warm meal away from home is always comforting. We have a thermos for everyone in our family as well. When I make dinner I always make extra so my family can have leftovers for lunch the next day. This is also a great way to get more veggies in your kids if they don't like them raw. Here are some our favorites:
- Soups- homemade, so much better than opening a can and healthy, too- less sodium, preservatives and chemicals
- Pasta and veggies and/or meats
- Chicken nuggets and tater tots- a favorite with my kids
- Rice and veggies and/or meats
- Tuna casserole
You can find a Thermos at most large retails stores like Target or Walmart. They have tons of different styles to suit everyone in your family.
Get The Kids Involved
Kids love to help prepare food and it's a great opportunity to educate them on healthful eating. I find that my kids are more willing to eat what they have prepared, as well. What they can help with depends on their age and skill level. My 7 yr old can cut soft fruit and veggies while my 4 yr old works on putting sandwiches together. Here are some other tasks they can help with:
- Put snacks in individual bags- chips, nuts, dried fruit
- Wrap sliced cheese
- Divide leftovers into small containers
- Place salad items in containers
- Make sandwiches
- Make rolled PB & J- my kids love these!
- Peel carrots and other veggies
Kids really do want to help. Make it fun and this can be a great way to spend some time together and get your kids to eat healthy foods.