Just because a packed lunch isn't necessarily on a plate doesn't mean it shouldn't be half fruits and vegetables! Use the lunchbox sections to make sure that half of each lunch is fruits, veggies, or both!
Here are 3 fun combinations to try...
- Peach Slices and Chunks of Heirloom Tomatoes
- Cucumber and Watermelon (add mint and some feta to take it to the next level)
- Halved Cherry Tomatoes and Carrot Sticks with Ranch Dressing
Get Creative with Nuts and Seeds
Many schools have begun to prohibit the top allergens, including peanut and tree nuts, but that doesn't mean you can't have fun with nuts and seeds! Try the following, which should be safe for most schools...
- Sunflower Seed Butter Sandwich on Whole Grain Bread with Banana Slices and Cinnamon
- Toasted Pumpkin Seeds with Salt and Pepper
Consider the Sog Factor
When you pack a lunch in the morning (or the night before) the food has to sit a while before it's eaten. Sometimes that delay can lead to soggy food.
Skip the "sog factor" by paying attention to your sandwiches. Make sure there's a barrier between the spreads that can cause sogginess and the bread. Spread jellies on top of sunflower butter, put mayonnaise on the inside of low-sodium lunch meats, etc.
Boost the Beverage
Skip sugary drinks, even 100% fruit juice, and put water or seltzer in a packed lunch. You can add flavor with fruit and fresh herbs!
There's no need for a fancy infusion water bottle, but some sure are pretty if you want to boost your drink's appeal further.
- Sliced Strawberries (or just their tops, if there's some fruit still attached)
- Lemon and Lime Slices
- Fresh Mint
Now these are all tips for kids lunches, but there's no reason everyone can't use them! How will you level up your next packed lunch?
By Judy Doherty, MPS, PC II
Free Handout: School Lunch
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.