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How to Pack More Nutrition into Sack Lunch?

Updated on April 1, 2015
anglnwu profile image

A certified health and wellness coach, I love discussing food, health benefits and how to keep weight in check,

What's in the Sack Lunch?

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Let’s face it—packing school lunches can be a pain and a challenge.

Then why bother? There are a number of reasons—you may think school lunches are not as healthy, your kid may not like school lunches or you think you can better control the nutritional intake of your child. In some cases, your kid's medical condition may warrant it.

Given the choice, your kids would most likely opt for fruits snacks, chips, hot-pockets, cookies, drink pouches or puddings to put in their lunch box. While it may be necessary sometimes to toss in some of these for varieties, making these pre-packaged and processed choices the staple content of the lunch box may spell disaster in the long run. If you break down the nutritional value of these neatly packaged foods, a few frightening components come up: simple sugar and carbohydrates, trans fat, saturated fats, high sodium content , not to mention preservatives and chemicals to make the foods appealing and appetizing. That may explain the rise of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular complications even among children. According to the National Center of Health Statisitcs, nearly one out of three children are obese.

Sack Lunches may bring an even bigger smile.

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Sure, lunch is just one meal  in a day but that’s one meal too many to not eat healthy.

Nutritionist and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Feeding Your Baby and Toddler, believes in packing school lunches. She says, “I’m a big fan of school lunches, but you have more control over the cost and what your child eats if you pack lunch at home.”

It’s one thing to stock the lunch bag with nutritious choices, another to ensure your kid eats it. If it’s not appealing or tasty, you don’t know if your kid actually ditches them in the trash. Or trades your carefully prepared meal for a bar of Three Musketeers.  Your best bet?  Infuse food choices with nutrition, good looks and taste. In other words, make your sack lunches appealing and nutritious.

Are these snacks commonly found in your sack lunch?

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However, there are a few things to remember before you set out to prepare nourishing healthy  foods:

  • Get creative

Lunch doesn’t have to be PB and J everyday or chicken nuggets everyday.  If your kid is bored with your selection, the chances are they may not get eaten. Get creative and play with different food choices and experiment with different ways to make foods more appealing.

  • Picky Eaters

Finicky kids are selective. Rather than packed what you think is delicious, ask them to pick their favorites. And with some ingenuity, any choice can be made more nutritious with some tricks, which we will cover soon.

  • Nothing  Smelly

Tuna may be healthy but no kid wants to have all his friends move away from the lunch table because of that.  So smell the foods you prepare, if they don’t smell good, don’t include.

  • Treats

Kids love to find treats in their lunch boxes, so be sure to include some healthy treats.

  • Kid’s Involvement

Ask your kid to help with the planning, selection and preparation of the meals. If they are involved, they are more likely to eat them.

If your lunch smells, you maybe lunching alone....well, maybe...

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With that in mind,  let’s get sneaky and sneak some nutrition into the lunch meals.

Healthy Lunch Choices

A healthy lunch should be balanced with the five main groups of foods: carbohydrates, protein, dairy products and fruits and vegetables. Refer to Food Pyramid Guide for kids for more details.

  • Carbohydrates

Choices include whole grain breads, pasta, pita, flatbread, tortillas, Lavosh, English muffins, crackers, rice cakes, crispbreads, and bagels.

  • Proteins

Meat (you can easily baked chicken breast or beef and sliced them up—healthier than processed meat), peanut butter,  hummus, eggs and beans.

Another way to jazz up plain rice cakes--peanut butter and jelly!

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All the healthy stuff you can stuff inside a wrap.

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  • Dairy Products

Milk,  yogurt, cream cheese and cheese

  • Fruits and Vegetables

Any kind of fruits but it’s best to include those that your kid likes.

Vegetables can included in sandwiches, wraps or eaten as salads. Celery sticks and carrots are easy to prepare and they won’t wilt.

Snack on these gems of nutrients and antioxidants.

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With these 5 main food groups, you can permutate and come out with enough ideas to keep your kids happy through their school life. Here are some ideas:

1. Make sandwiches, wraps, burritos, or tacos  with choices of carbohydrates and meat. You can also include lettuce, tomatoes, slices of cucumber or shredded carrots to make it even more nutritional.

To avoid soggy sandwiches, use a little butter or margarine to coat breads or toast breads with slices of cheese before adding meat and vegetables.

2. You can spread rice cakes with cream cheese or peanut butter and top it with chopped fruits, nuts or vegetables.

3. Toss meat cut into cubes with mayonnaise and chopped vegetables. Add nuts, seeds or dried fruits if desired.

4. Toss pasta with meat, vegetables and favorite seasonings.

5. Cut vegetables and pack dressings separately. Combine before eating.

6. Include fruits—already cut or whole. Frozen fruit slices are good in the summer—just remember to pack them with ice-packs.

7. Healthy snacks include trail mix, nuts (some kids are allergic to nuts), air-popped snack or baked chips, pretzels or naturally sweeten fruit snacks.

Prefer hot lunches?--get one of these to keep your food hot, and ready to eat.


Submit a Comment

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 6 years ago

    Eloise hope, I know, packing lunches can be a headache. I still have them--kids can be finicky. I'm always looking for new ways to make sack lunch more interesting. Thanks for commenting.

  • Eloise Hope profile image

    Eloise Hope 6 years ago from Portland, Oregon, USA

    I loved this post! Very timely with school starting; lunch is always a challenge, especially with the possibility of kids swapping or tossing food they don't like.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 6 years ago

    I agree with you, Carco, kids are more likely to eat what they pack. And if we only provide them with healthy choices, that's what will end up in the lunch box. Thanks for dropping by to comment.

  • carcro profile image

    Paul Cronin 6 years ago from Winnipeg

    I wish you could pack my lunch, those lunch pics look so good! It's that time of year again, back to school for the kids, I really like your comment on getting the kids involved with the packing of their lunch, it really does help teach them the importance of good eats, and they are more likely to eat their lunch than throw it in the school garbage can. Thanks for sharing, voted Up and Useful!

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    Maita, thanks for dropping by. Phew, this health challenge is exhausting. How do you manage to contribute almost everyday? Good job so far!

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    Jill, always to pleasure to hear from you. Yes, preparing lunches is always a challenge. Even now, I'm constantly trying to make it more interesting but as you know, morning is not the best time to get your brain working. Thank you for your feedback and have a great day!

  • prettydarkhorse profile image

    prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

    hi angel, these ideas are great, rated it up angel!

  • jill of alltrades profile image

    jill of alltrades 7 years ago from Philippines

    Wow, those are great ideas! I wish this was written several years ago when I still had to prepare lunches for my kids. It's always a challenge to come up with something healthy and yummy everyday.

    Great hub anglnwu!

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    Amber Allen, thanks for your encouragement.

  • Amber Allen profile image

    Amber Allen 7 years ago

    Great hub anginwu full of great ideas. Well done!


  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    Haha, dohn, I'll be envious of your rice basket. Want to trade? As for making kids--it's about time. If you ever need some help, I can the the matchmaker or the wing-lady but judging by the no. of admirers you have, you will have no problem in this area.

    Always good to hear from you but really, you should be going to bed!

  • dohn121 profile image

    dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

    I loved your ideas, anglnwu. Now it's time for me to make some kids ;) Oh, you're definitely right about the smelly lunches! Kids can certainly be mean and the kids that stand out negatively may never recover! I was the kid with the sticky rice basket, lol. Other kids were more curious about it than anything else.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    lelanew55, i agree--it's important to establish good eating habits in kids so as to avoid major health problems later in life. Thanks for dropping by and I greatly appreciate your comments.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    Pamela, thanks for your encourging feedback. It's always good to see you.

  • lelanew55 profile image

    lelanew55 7 years ago

    Nice hub Anginwu, very healthy lunches for kids. It is so important kids get the proper nutrition these days. Kids should never be obese or develop diabetes. Thank you for sharing.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Anginwu, Very nice selection of lunch snacks and your pictures really added to your hub. Great hub.