“BEEP! BEEP! BEEP” the alarm seems so much louder on the first day of school! Back to school can be a stressful time between trying to adjust to all the new schedules, as well as making sure everyone is organized and fed. This includes school lunches that need packed. This can feel like an annoying chore, adding to the morning chaos. Until someone figures out how to make lunches pack themselves, here are some tips to streamline your busy mornings.
That’s right – meal prep. This is the key to a healthy week and is helpful for all. Preparing nutritious foods will save stress and time before heading out of the house for the day.
- Have a flexible plan for the week. Pick something to be the “main” component of your lunch like a whole grain sandwich or salad and then prep some easy sides (think whole fruit, yogurt cups, or homemade granola bars). Consider where dinner leftovers could double as a nutritious lunch.
- Prep ingredients that can be incorporated into multiple meals. Prepare some protein foods like hard-boiled eggs, chicken salad, or hummus. Slice up some vegetables to keep on hand for easy sides. Make sure to wash and cut up your fruit for easy access as well.
- Involve the kids in the prepping process. A perk to having prepared ingredients on hand is kids can assemble their own lunch boxes. Plus, involving them in meal prep (like mixing ingredients or washing produce) may encourage them to try new foods.
Easy & Healthy Lunch Ideas
A healthy lunch should include fruits and vegetables, lean protein, heart-healthy fat, and whole grains. The key to having a satisfying and filling lunch is to have something from all food groups. Find the combination that works best for you and your family using these unique ideas.
- Sandwich, wrap, or roll: Go beyond the usual PB&J! Try some nutritious options utilizing whole grain bread with hearty fillings. Think whole grain pita with hummus and vegetables or whole grain tortillas rolled up with turkey and cheese. Simply make your fillings ahead of time and assemble the night before.
- Salad and bowls: It’s an easy way to pack in a serving (or two) of veggies in the middle of the day. Add in dried fruit, herbs, nuts and low-fat cheese to make lunch more flavorful and fun to eat. Bulk up your meal with some lean protein like black beans, chickpeas, or tuna.
- Re-heat soups: Make a big batch of soup for dinner and save the leftovers for easy lunch ideas. Plus, making homemade soup can help to limit your sodium intake, as most store-bought soups have over half the daily value!
Continue reading August 2021 Newsletter: Fitting Exercise into a Busy Schedule