Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Packing a Tasty, Healthy Lunchbox

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Before our family relocated, Donnie came home for lunch every day.  These days, he eats at work, which is quite a change for us.  Not only do I miss him, I'm also faced with the new challenge of packing him a lunch that is tasty, healthy, and convenient.

I know that back-to-school lunch ideas are a hot topic among mom bloggers this week, and I was at first hesitant to add my two cents to the conversation.  However, I finally decided to share my favorite tips, in the hope that they'll help all of you lunchbox-packing moms come up with some new midday meal ideas.

Here are some of my favorite tricks for packing nourishing, delicious lunches:

Know your eater and his preferences.  Some folks like big lunches; some prefer small.  Some want sandwiches every day; others would rather eat leftovers.  I, personally, like a lot of variety in my lunches, while Donnie would be perfectly happy to eat a turkey sandwich, chips, and an apple five days a week.  Make it a point to learn your family's lunch preferences, and you'll have a much easier time packing meals they actually eat.

Serve meals that are light, but also hearty.  Avoid foods high in fat and sodium, which will leave your family dragging all afternoon.  Make sandwiches with lean, uncured meats (leftover roast chicken is a great choice!), and pass on packaged snacks in favor of fresh fruits and veggies.  Meals made from delicious, nourishing whole foods will leave your family members filled, but not overfull, and give them plenty of energy.

Include lots of choices.  Kids are more likely to eat healthy foods if they have a variety of options available to them.  Picnic-style meals that include small servings of assorted fruits, veggies, and cheeses, are always a hit.  Even if your meal features an undisputed "main course," packing a couple different snack items will allow your family to choose the foods that are the most appealing to them.

When in doubt, pack more.  It's always better to have too much food, rather than too little.  If kids are still hungry, they're likely to beg unhealthy snacks from their friends, or waste money on vending machine junk.  Make sure they have plenty to eat, even if you know they'll never finish it.  Most sandwiches and snacks can be packed again the next day, if necessary.

Keep it simple.  When I worked, I often packed myself elaborate lunches that needed to be reheated in separate containers - and it was a giant pain.  Avoid making lunchtime a hassle by serving foods that are simple and easy to eat.  Sandwiches should be preassembled, and leftovers should be packed in a single, microwaveable container.  Produce should be washed, peeled, diced, and ready to eat. 

Serve something sweet.  Some folks may disagree with me on this point, but I think packing a small treat is a great way to perk up family members suffering from midday blahs.  Homemade cookies, granola bars, and small pieces of candy are all tasty, moderate snacks the whole family will enjoy.
What are your favorite tips for packing tasty, healthy lunches?

This post is proudly shared at Kitchen Tip Tuesday.

7 comments:

  1. Is that a Diet Coke in that lunch box? ;-) Great tips! I have a hard time getting my husband to eat with us. It's a continual source of frustration for me that he sometimes schedules meetings in larger towns around lunch time just so he can eat fast food. Yuck...Though, just recently, he has really made an effort to eat with us. He wants unhealthy chips and lunch meat and I can't afford those on my budget and don't want my kids eating them so I don't buy them. It's a vicious cycle.

    Hope you're getting settled in Philly. BTW, I never told you, but I really like your blog re-design. :-)

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  2. YES, it is a Coke, and I didn't even notice when I chose this pic. :(

    LOL, my hubby also misses fast food!

    We're still getting settled, and now comes the hard part - selling our old place.

    How's your little one?

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  3. She's fine right now. Thanks for asking. We're trying to figure out where/when/by whom to do her surgery. She's not going to be a happy camper for a while, I'm afraid. The cast she will have to wear is brutal looking. I did find out that Children's Hospital Philly has the #1 ranked ped ortho department in the country - but it's too far for us. (Anyhow, I'm reading blogs when I should be working on my composition class...so I guess I'd better get back to work.)

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  4. I take that back. Boston has the #1. Philly is #2, I think...or I'm completely wrong on all points. Hard to tell.

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  5. CHOP is an amazing hospital. That's where Trey went when he needed a CT scan, and the staff was wonderful. If you do decide to come out here, let me know. Donnie and I will do whatever we can to support you guys...

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  6. Thanks, Katie, I really appreciate that. I think we're staying in Iowa. I've been doing a lot of research and think the doctor we saw is very experienced and very highly regarded in the hip dysplasia world. I'm so relieved. :-)

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  7. I'm so glad you were able to find someone you trust. Please keep me posted!

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