Creating Healthy Lunches for the Whole Family
For busy parents, making a healthy lunch for you and your kids to take to school and work can be stressful. Packing a healthy lunch can save big money and with a little planning, will give you and your family the energy you need to get through the day. USDA's MyPlate is designed to make building a well-balanced meal easier for families. Below are a few healthy choices from each food group that don’t take a lot of time to put together. Choose one from each, and you’re all set!
- ½ small apple
- 1 clementine or small orange
- 16 seedless grapes
- 1 small peach
- ½ medium pear, a large plum or 4 large strawberries
- ¼ cup raisins, prunes or dried apricots
- 1 ½ cups leafy greens (any type of lettuce, spinach)
- 1 ½ large stalks celery
- ¾ cup broccoli florets
- ¾ cup baby carrots
- ¾ cup cooked sweet potato or squash
- slice of bread
- a cup of cereal
- ½ cup of oatmeal, rice, or whole-wheat pasta
- 1 mini bagel
- ½ English muffin
- 3 cups popped popcorn
- a small flour, whole wheat, or corn tortilla
- an ounce of meat, poultry or fish
- ¼ cup cooked beans or peas (black, kidney, pinto, lentil, chickpeas)
- hard-boiled egg
- 1 tablespoon of peanut or almond butter
- ½ ounce of nuts (12 almonds, 24 pistachios, 7 walnut halves)
- ¼ cup tofu
- 2 tablespoons hummus
- a falafel patty
- 1 small glass of milk
- 8 oz. container of yogurt
- 2 slices of cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss or Parmesan cheese
- 3 slices processed American cheese
- 2 cups cottage cheese
- 8 oz. of pudding
- Freeze it! Make the most of your leftovers! Pack the extras into single kid-size portions and freeze them for lunch. Or, freeze fruit before packing them up– they will defrost by lunchtime and keep a lunchbox cool.
- Plan ahead. Make a few sandwiches without condiments to save time. Wash, slice, and package produce so that you’re set for a few days (don’t forget to put some aside for your lunch, too).
- Smart Shortcuts: Is it economical to buy larger containers and some reusable storage to take smaller portions? Yes. But there are healthy pre-made single-serving foods out there that may work better for your schedule. Yogurt and unsweetened applesauce are two great examples of kid-friendly snacks that make for healthier lunch add-ins--choose the healthier shortcuts that work for you and your family.
HumanaVitality is not an insurance product. This material is intended for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor before making dietary changes or starting an exercise routine.