Summer is coming to an end, it’s that time of year again – getting the kids out of bed early, packing lunches and rushing off to school. With this new hectic schedule it can be very easy to get caught up in the grab-and-go type lunch foods that are convenient but not always necessarily the most healthy.
Whether it is your child’s lunch for school; your lunch for the office or a lunch for the mom (or dad) on-the-go, here are some tips for making sure everyone can prepare, pack and enjoy a healthy lunch that will not only make you feel more energetic and healthy but also save money as well.
Lunch for school: When it comes to your child’s lunch, the biggest advantage you have is get them involved. Brainstorm with them and come up with a grocery list of healthy items that they will actually eat. When possible, take them with you to the store and have them be involved in picking out items that will go in their lunch, this way you know you won’t have a hungry child at school or wasted food thrown away. Make their lunches fun by varying what is in them and for younger children add shapes, color and “mini” items that are fun sized and appealing to the eye. Teach them to make their own lunch each day – this helps show them independence and also frees up some time in your busy schedule as well.
Lunch for work: There are so many new smartphone apps that help you check grocery specials, find recipes and even make your grocery list. The big motivations for this trend are spending less time, money and eating healthier. By taking advantage of some of these apps, you can begin preparing and packing your own healthy lunches for work. With just a little planning on the weekend, you can prepare recipes to put in single-serving containers to take with you during the week. If planning, preparing and packing sounds like a hassle, focus on how much healthier you will be for doing it and also the money you will save. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Planning: invest in small reseal-able or disposable containers to pack lunches, sauces, etc.; schedule time to prepare food including slicing, chopping, and cooking; purchase larger portions of food and divide into small portions and/or freeze.
- Know the following about your meals: Are their cold items that need to be refrigerated? Do I have a way to keep them cold? Do I need to heat anything? Do I have a way to heat them up? If not, you can use a thermos to keep things hot or to keep things cold you can purchase a small cooler with ice packs; use frozen fruit to keep things cold (and then eat the fruit later); ice cubes in a small plastic zipper bag will also keep things cool or freeze a single water bottle and drink it later.
- Few fun lunch ideas: Brown bag lunches can get boring if you limit yourself to a plain PB&J every day. Vary your lunches by including leftovers from dinner. Make wraps with grilled chicken breast or veggies; take whole wheat cereal and yogurt for lunch instead of eating them for breakfast; try grilled & chopped salmon on a salad or whole grain pasta; grab a can of tuna and add some apple slices, salad greens and a light red-wine vinaigrette dressing; brown rice and black beans with salsa; sweet potato and add some pineapple
- Modify some of your favorite brown bag lunches from childhood to make them healthier: transform a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into a healthy sandwich by substituting whole wheat bread, use apple slices or other fresh fruit instead of sugar laden jelly; try making a pizza roll by taking a whole grain wrap and fill it with tomatoes, basil leaves and low fat mozzarella cheese.
- Energizing snacks to keep you going all day long: When you are at work 8+ hours or know that you have a busy on-the-go day, try to pack some of the following snacks for a mid-day boost and lasting energy: blueberries, orange slices, pita chips & bean dip, veggies & hummus, peanut butter on whole wheat crackers, strawberries, cantaloupe, mango, tomatoes, avocados, peppers, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, nuts, oatmeal, whole grains, low fat dairy
- Also, many times when you feel zapped in the afternoon it is because you are possibly dehydrated. Even just being slightly dehydrated can cause you to feel tired. Your body is made up of 60% water and it needs that water for digestion and energy. Keep a water bottle or big cup with you at work (or in the car) to remind you to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Lunch for the on-the-go mom (or dad): For the most part, the same rules apply as the “Lunch for Work” but since many of your time is spent in the car or at the ball park, you would definitely want to invest in some type of cooler to keep your lunch/snacks in. You can plan picnics with a play group, take your own lunch and snacks into the food court at the mall, make a pit-stop at a welcome center or family safe park, or take it into the bleachers at your child’s event.
This may seem too inconvenient at first but once you take time to plan and prepare your healthy meals and snacks, it will soon become a habit and just part of your weekly routine. With all that extra energy and money you save you could even reward yourself and your family with a splurge meal out once a month or save for several months and go on a special vacation trip. Get the family involved, get creative and get healthy.
Bodyrich Fitness Company
Certified Personal Trainer & Certified Fitness Nutritionist
Contact us at 678-417-0880 ext. 8301 / email@example.com