Whether you are packing a lunch for the office or creating a bag lunch for your children, it can be tempting to take the so-called easy way out. The grocery store aisles abound with fast choices for lunch on the go. Pre-packaged cans of tuna and crackers, microwavable soup containers, and boxes of crackers and deli meat are some popular sack lunch offerings. However, if you are trying to provide a natural, healthy diet for your family, pre-packaged convenience food is not the best choice. These items are full of preservatives, sodium and artificial chemicals. By substituting boxed items for healthy lunch ideas, you can cut down on calories, increase nutrition and provide your family with energy-enhancing, natural foods.
Heatlhy bag lunch ideas for Adults
One of the worst things you can do on a regular basis is eat fast food for lunch. You can reduce the amount of fat and calories by making healthier choices like salads or soups at the drive through window, but you are still getting poorer nutrition than if you packed a lunch. A bag lunch can also cost a lot less than eating out. Here are some easy healthy sack lunch ideas.
• Fresh veggies make great sides for a bag lunch. Broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and celery can be stored in a small cool pack or office fridge. For the best quality, purchase these items fresh from a farmer’s market or in the organic section at your grocery store. Peel and slice enough vegetables for a few days or a week at a time and store them in airtight containers in your refrigerator. For added taste, bring a small container of bean dip or natural peanut butter, but avoid canned dips that are high in sodium.
• Hard boiled eggs are a great way to add protein to your lunch. Buy free range eggs from your local farmer or grocery store to reduce the chemicals that may be present in your food.
• Substituting whole-grain wraps for loaf bread is a great way to cut down on preservatives and increase the nutritional value of your meal. Wraps from brands like Ezekiel are made with lentils and high-protein grains that will provide more energy and help you avoid that 3:00 slow down.
• One of the easiest healthy lunch sack ideas is to include water instead of soda or juice. Sugary drinks offer empty calories that provide no benefit for your body. Drinking several glasses of water each day provides numerous health benefits, and if you have access to an office water cooler or fountain you can also save additional money.
Healthy Lunches for Kids
A few sticks of celery are probably not going to cut it in your child’s lunch box every day. To get kids to eat raw veggies, you may have to get creative. You can use peanut butter, raisins or celery to create ants on a log. You can also use specialty knives to create crinkle cut vegetables that kids can eat like chips. Include something fun and healthy to dip them in like real cheese spread or bean dip.
Some other kid-friendly healthy lunch sack ideas are included below.
• Create homemade Lunchable-style meals without the preservatives by purchasing all-natural deli meats and whole grain crackers. Look for packaged deli meat that is nitrate free. Purchase a small container with dividers and fill it with crackers, small slices of meat and some fruit.
• Avoid sugar or artificial sweeteners by using organic juice boxes or small bottles of water. You can also purchase organic boxes of milk from brands like Horizon. Because the milk is completely sealed, it will last longer than milk bought in the dairy section and you do not have to worry about temperature in the lunch box.
• Use leftovers when possible. Pull extra chicken from the bone for use in a wrap, create a cold meatloaf sandwich or use the dinner rolls or corn muffins to create a fun sandwich.
One of the worst things to do when packing lunch for kids is rule out sweets and treats altogether. This can create a resentment for eating healthy that will impact later food decisions. Instead, use sweets sparingly. You might allow a special treat one or two days a week or put them in occasionally as a surprise. Try to use homemade baked goods when possible to reduce the amount of preservatives in your children’s food.
You do not need to be a dietitian in order to come up with healthy lunch sack ideas for your family. Simply pay attention to your food choices, read labels when shopping, and try to purchase items that are all natural and preservative free. Anytime you can include raw produce or homemade items in a sack lunch you are probably making a healthier choice. Even if you cannot entirely convert to a better diet, making small choices like replacing soda with water can bring about huge results. Begin taking small steps today and you will be surprised at how healthy your lunches are in a few months.