I used to pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in my kids’ lunch boxes every single day. It was easy; they liked it; and I thought it was healthy. Research over the past couple of years has taught me that the quintessential American lunch box staple is not exactly healthy. Peanuts might contain carcinogens, jelly is basically sugar, and white bread isn’t much better – it’s quickly converted into sugar in the body.
But if peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are not the best option, what is? Here are a few ideas for a better lunch box:
1. Leftovers. Leftovers from last night’s dinner are an easy solution for today’s lunch. A fun way to transform leftovers is to dice some leftover meat and veggies and quickly fry them with leftover rice.
2. Greek yogurt. VOSKOS® Greek Yogurt, plain or flavored is wonderful either as part of lunch, or, if you need to pack a separate snack for your child (both my kids have a snack at 10am and lunch as 12pm), VOSKOS® is the perfect snack – delicious, filling, and high in protein.
3. Ants on a log, made with celery, almond butter and raisins, or with cream cheese and raisins (yes, it’s a yummy combination!)
4. Oatmeal and apple muffins – each of these delicious muffins contains 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein!
5. Tuna salad pockets. A refreshing change from sandwiches, these tasty, filling tuna pita pockets contain 30 grams of protein in each serving.
6. Greek yogurt breakfast quiche. Quiches are tasty at room temperature, so go ahead and pack a slice of this greek yogurt quiche in your child’s lunch box. Each slice contains 10 grams of protein.
7. Cheese cubes and fruit. Mozzarella sticks are easy, but cubed sharp cheddar is tastier. Forego the “cheese cubes and pretzels” combo and instead, pack the cheese with some grapes or dried fruit. The sweet-salty combination is wonderful.
8. Hardboiled eggs. Hardboiled eggs are healthy, delicious and filling. One of my kids likes them simply salted. For her sister, I spread them with a little spicy mustard or guacamole.
9. Vegetables and fruit. This goes without saying – every lunch box should contain a veggie and a fruit. Celery and carrot sticks with Greek yogurt ranch dressing or hummus for dipping are excellent; in the summer, try packing frozen grapes. In the winter, I often pack apple slices – dip them in orange juice to prevent browning.
10. Whole wheat or sourdough sandwiches. Obviously, sandwiches ARE a convenient lunchbox solution. Try to use whole wheat bread or sourdough bread with no sugar or preservatives, both a healthier option than processed white bread. Stay tuned for our next blog post, where we will feature a list of healthy sandwich ideas!