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Build Healthier Brown Bag Lunches for Your Kids

September 7, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGetting kids to eat healthy lunches can be a challenge. Even those who don’t shy from good food at home can bend to peer pressure and being ‘cool’ when with friends. Sometimes this takes compromising to find something that is good and that they’ll actually eat. After all the healthiest food does no good if it’s given away or – worse – thrown away! Consider these healthy and easily “customized” brown bag lunch ideas.

This can mean finding ways to keep cold things cold and warm things warm not only from a food safety issue but also from a taste standpoint. Anyone remember the things we liked cold or hot but when warm it was not appealing enough to even eat? Do we really think that changes?! Technology allows packing hot foods in the morning that stay hot until lunch time. This makes brown bag lunches better than ever.

Here are 17 things to consider for kids lunches.

  1. Peanut butter with or without jelly is a favorite of many and if it isn’t broke don’t fix it – you can even add homemade peanut butter cookies.
  2. Popcorn – season with a little parmesan cheese or other flavoring. Add nuts and dried fruit that they like – you can make this inexpensively at home to reduce the sugar and preservatives.
  3. Slice veggies into small sized bites. Consider apple chips or zucchini chips and be it dried or fresh use small containers for dip or salsa.
  4. Use deli slice meats at home in wraps using ingredients you approve of
  5. Use a sandwich maker to make “hot pocket” sandwiches at home – use meats, cheese, vegetables.
  6. Soup cups and other “instant” meals can be rehydrated with hot water at most cafeterias – you can easily make these too at home. This gives you more control to the salt, sugar and preservative content and you can even sneak in powdered vegetables for the kids who don’t like veggies.
  7. Make a taco salad with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and cheese in a plastic container, adding low fat tortilla chips or dressing at lunch time.
  8. Consider meal muffins. Many use muffins for snacks but you can make them with bacon bits, cheese, cornbread and many other options. You can even bake TexMex cornbread muffins with bbq or taco meat which can be warmed up with access to a microwave.
  9. Jerky – turkey or beef jerky is a “cool” way to get nutrition and – again – made at home you control what goes in it. A simple marinade of A1, BBQ sauce, pepper, a little soy sauce, garlic powder and dash of onion powder mixed thoroughly, marinade then dry in a food dehydrator. Be sure to follow recommended temperatures for drying meats. Make it easier still – have your met counter slice lean meats “bacon thick” – easy to marinade and toss in the dehydrator.
  10. Along with the jerky make a “granola mix” – use nuts, dried banana chips, raisins dried cranberries, a handful of coconut or blueberries. They think they’re snacking – you know it’s good for them
  11. Cold pasta salad, or potato salad. Small individual containers make this easier than ever.
  12. Soups or stews can be sent in insulated food jars. This with a hard roll or garlic sticks (made at home) is good and good for them.
  13. Casseroles with everything in it – easy way to use leftovers.
  14. Chili with crackers or toasted bread.
  15. Lasagna, spaghetti, even macaroni and cheese with diced ham and veggies mixed in.
  16. Kids like desserts – give them options you want. For example Zucchini brownies gives them the snack they want and they don’t know they’re eating zucchini, peanut butter and yogurt. You can further cut the sugar using honey as a sweetener.
  17. They want cookies too? Try these with zucchini.

Brown bag lunches don’t have to be a hassle. Find ways to include what they want in a healthier way and all win.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2014 3:35 PM

    Yogurt was always a favorite for my kids. They liked building cheese and cracker sandwiches too.

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