It's back to school time and we provide you with some tips to create a healthy, quick, diverse and convenient lunch for school or work.
Let's start off with healthy beverages which play a very important role in everyone's diet. Try to avoid sodas and all high sugary drinks. Instead, drink water, tea, smoothies or mix some 100% juice with water to satisfy your thirst. Make sure to drink at least 64 oz of liquids each day.
Whether it's you or your little one heading back to school, a sandwich is the perfect meal for lunch break. Something as simple as two slices of bread leaves room for an indefinite amount of various creations. And when done the right way, it makes for a satisfying, healthy and nutrient-rich option. First of all, try using whole wheat bread instead of white bread. It's healthier, providing your body with more fiber and other vitamins and minerals. Don’t be shy to try different types of whole wheat breads. There is for example rye bread, sunflower seed bread and pumpernickel bread. To ensure that you are buying whole wheat bread, check the package label. Look for the 100% whole grain stamp from the Whole Grains Council or for words like “100% whole wheat”. In addition, make sure the first ingredient contains the word "whole", such as “whole wheat” or “whole oats”.
Here are some preparation tips for a healthy sandwich: Sandwich fillings can be versatile, such as slices of meat, vegetables, cheese or spreads. Prepare the filling the evening before and make the sandwich the next morning. Therefore, you can save time the following day to get your sandwiches done and they won't get too soggy.
Use lettuce for the filling which prevents the sandwich from becoming soggy and gives it a crunch. Be creative with your spreads and explore your and your child’s favorites! Here are some suggestions from our nutritionists. You can add lean sausage, cheese, cream cheese, chopped nuts, vegetables like cucumber, tomato, lettuce, kale and even fruits like apples and pears. Try a peanut butter-banana or almond butter-raspberry sandwich. Using mashed fruit instead of jelly provides your loved ones with more fiber, nutrients and less of the artificial and more of the natural sugars.
This leads us to another essential part of school lunch: Fruits and vegetables. Bell peppers, carrots and cucumber slices are easy to make and very convenient to eat. If you want, you can also add a Greek yogurt dip, which can be easily made with herbs, salt and pepper. Additionally, veggies are light and filling and have less calories and sugar compared to fruits. The darker the vegetables are the more nutrients they consist of, so try choosing dark leafy greens for example. Nevertheless, fruits are very important in your or your child's lunch. Therefore, along with veggies, pack fruit slices, some berries or oranges in your child's lunch and don't forget to take some with you.
There are also other great alternatives to the usual school lunches. You can create a sandwich on a stick. Simply put sandwich fixings on a skewer. Other easily made options are cheese-grape and tomato-mozzarella sticks. Moreover, you can make healthy cereal bars ahead of time, which are also very convenient to eat and can be stored for a while. Another yummy alternative is pita bread filled with fresh foods like shredded carrots, feta and yogurt. If you prefer sweet meals you can also prepare yogurt parfaits with Greek yogurt, fruits and nuts.
Try these tips to help you prepare a healthy, quick and diverse lunch. There are so many easy ways to do it, be creative and have fun with it! Remember, if you cannot find the time to pack a healthy lunch, you can mix up a nutritious shake like Almased for lunch.
Written by: Ivonne Hagen, Nutrition Intern | Edited by: Almased Nutrition Staff