Q. Back to school time is here and my kids usually pack their own lunch. My husband and I also normally pack our lunches. Do you have any fresh ideas? Last year became really repetitive, and not the most nutritious.
A. It’s time to go beyond the typical brown bag bites and find livelier lunch options to pack for you and your family. September welcomes a new school year, therefore, it is a great time to think outside of the lunchbox and incorporate new ideas that focus on fun, creativity and engaging minds — for kids and adults alike.
With a weekly game plan, some imagination, and maybe a little guidance on what to grab at the grocery store, feel confident as you tackle this mealtime beast that, more times than not, defaults to boring. Read on to find out how to love your lunch a whole lot more.
• DYI Lunchables: Don’t get me wrong, the compartment-divided crackers, meat, and cheese platters that are sold in the cooler case of the grocery store are convenient, but they could use some healthful help. Using the same, simple concept, make your own lunchable using low-sodium deli meat, whole grain crackers, cheese, and pack some baby carrots or bell pepper strips with hummus to round it out. DYI, done and delicious.
• Love Your Leftovers Too: Who’s part of the cook once, eat twice (or three or four times) club? To succeed at eating less take out, leftovers from dinner the night before is a perfect lunch option. Double your dinners to have a midday winner – your wallet and waistline will welcome this easy hack week after week.
• Be Ridiculously Random: No one’s judging, so don’t worry if the concoction you pack up is downright random. Build a “kitchen sink” salad in a large portable container with your favorite greens, along with whatever veggies, protein, nuts and dried fruit you keep in your cupboards. Make it complete by adding a vinaigrette salad dressing, and ta-da – this masterpiece may be one of your go-to’s for the midday meal.
• Go Beyond the Sandwich: Sure, PB&J’s have saved the day more times than not, but there are many options that are just as quick and easy. Swap out bread for a sweet potato base and add toppings such as avocado, cheese, beans and salsa for a tasty taco remix. Pro tip: poke the sweet potato with a fork and microwave for 5-7 minutes to make meal prep easy.