For a Healthy Lunch, Pack It Up, Pack It In

September 17, 2015

Making the middle meal count. Lunchbox advice from dietician Skylar Griggs.

By 
Skylar Griggs
For a Healthy Lunch, Pack It Up, Pack It In | WGBH | Craving Boston

As a dietitian, fall is my favorite time of year.  I find patients often make the most successful and high impact adjustments in autumn; with kids going back to school and parents getting back into a routine, change is in the air!

Perhaps one of the best shifts a family can make together is cleaning up the lunch routine.  If you can get your kids to bring and eat a healthy lunch, you’re off to a great start. Get the whole house involved!  I had a family who created a useful chart that included a weekly breakdown of lunch options.  Below are a few examples

 

 

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Fruit

Apple slices

6 Strawberries

Pear

Veggie

Cucumber slices

Carrot sticks

Snap peas

Whole Grain

Whole wheat pita pocket

Oat bread slices

4 whole grain crackers

Dairy

Low fat Greek yogurt

Low fat cheese

Low fat/skim milk

Lean Protein

Chicken breast

Tuna fish

Turkey slices

 

Ask your children to pick an option from each column.  And there is no reason mom and dad can’t work from the same healthy rubric! You’ll end up with a more balanced lunch box and everyone gets a say.

Fall is a great time to keep it seasonal.  Part of getting the family involved in the preparation process is picking out ingredients together. Bring the family along for trips to the local farmers market, or for a fall apple-picking trip. Give kids a small budget—say, a few dollars—and ask them to pick up a few pieces of produce they’d like to include in their lunch. You might be surprised how interested your children are in where that apple came from.

And don’t overlook the important role a humble apple can play in your packed-lunch game…

1.  Kids can make “apple-wiches” by adding peanut butter to horizontally sliced apples and eating it like a sandwich.  

2. Add Red Delicious, Mac and Gala apples to green salads (a little lemon juice will keep them from going brown), or try a colorful fruit salad with apples, blackberries, blueberries and grapes.

3. Make your own applesauce by cooking down apples (you can leave the peel on) with cinnamon, or even curry powder and a little bit of maple syrup or honey for sweetness.

Nutritionally, apples are an excellent source of fiber, which helps you feel fuller longer and improves digestive health. Be sure to include either a healthy fat like peanut butter or a lean protein like Greek yogurt to your apple concoction to balance blood sugar.

With the rush of getting everyone out the door, sending the family in with appealing, nutritional lunches can get lost in the shuffle. But setting yourself up for success with a little advanced planning, having fun with seasonality, and getting the whole family involved can make all the difference in turning that midday meal into a success.

Topic 
  • September 17, 2015