26 August 2019Looking for creative and healthy lunch ideas for the family?

Summer is coming to a close which for many means heading back to school. There's a lot of preparation, not to mention returning to the routine of getting up and out of the house on time. Packing a healthy lunch is an opportunity to create healthy habits and to provide nourishing food for the kiddos. Not only that, it will give you the chance to put together something healthy for yourself! Here are a few tips to help the entire process along.

Prepare lunches a few days ahead of time

If you typically make your lunch the night before or the morning of, try stepping up your game and making lunches for 3 days at a time. This type of batch preparation will give you back time when you really need it. Yes, this will require some planning and possibly extra to-go containers. Build a grocery list, tackle the supermarket and then set aside some time for assembly. Here are some lunch box additions that stand up to being prepared ahead of time and can satisfy both kids and adults.

Veggie & Meat Skewers

Keep it simple and assemble bell peppers, cheese and deli turkey on a skewer. Send these along with a packet of yellow mustard as a dipping sauce. Want to step up the nutrition and prevent soggy skewers? Chop some cherry tomatoes and cucumber chunks and place in a separate container in the refrigerator. Then at the last minute add these veggies to the skewers before they go out the door. Pair with hard boiled eggs and fresh fruit for a meal.

Almond butter pinwheels

Take a 10 inch whole wheat tortilla and spread with 2 Tbsp of natural almond butter. Add 2 tsp of agave or honey and mix with the almond butter. Roll up the tortilla and cut into even pieces. There are lots of additions to consider such as adding banana slices, coconut or raisins in place of the agave. You can easily swap out peanut or sunflower butter in place of the almond butter. Pair with yogurt and assorted raw veggies for a meal.

Mediterranean pasta salad

Have you tried the legume pastas? https://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/smart-choices/is-legume-pasta-healthy With additional dietary fiber, protein and slightly lower carbs, these make a healthier alternative to traditional semolina pasta. Cook up a box of pasta, cool and mix with sun dried tomatoes, feta cheese, broccoli chunks, garbanzo beans and olives. Add balsamic vinaigrette dressing and you have a tasty lunch. Pair with fresh fruit and raw nuts for a meal.

For additional lunch ideas check out:

Reconnect with mindful eating

As a parent, there are a million things to do and enjoying a leisurely meal might seem like a long lost luxury. Both your body and waistline will thank you if you set an intention to slow down and work towards being present while eating. Mindful eating promotes improved digestion and greater satiety (feeling full) when you pay attention to your food while eating. Move away from the screen, sit down and simply eat. This will help you reunite with how your food tastes and your sense of hunger and fullness as you move through the meal. In fact, it may enhance your overall enjoyment of eating.

For more information on mindful eating check out:
Minding Your Own Business of Eating
Reclaiming the Joy of Food

Get your kids involved

Parents want the best for their kids and this includes the formation of healthy eating habits. Encourage healthy habits by involving your kids in the process of healthy eating from an early age. Ask for input when building the weekly grocery list. For example, would they rather have zucchini or broccoli in their pasta primavera this week? Are they more excited about peaches or watermelon for dessert. Would they like to have black bean or pinto bean tostadas? Engage your kids in the kitchen by assigning jobs for all. For example, your kids might chip-in with setting the table, washing the produce or mixing the ingredients. Their hands-on involvement will naturally peak their interest in trying the foods they have just prepared. With some planning and supervision in the evening, engage your kids in the following day's lunch preparation. For specific age appropriate ways to get kids involved in the kitchen as well as some snack tips check out: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/downloads/cookwithchildren.pdf

Pat yourself on the back for your efforts

Every parent knows just because they pack a healthy lunch for their kids does not ensure the lunch will be eaten. And setting an intention to slow down and take a tech-free lunch break at the office doesn't guarantee it will happen and that you'll have a mindful meal. Just remember that building a healthy lifestyle takes effort and planning as well as the ability to jump back on track when things don't go as planned. Don't give up!


Joanna is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator with a passion for supporting individuals as they move towards a healthier lifestyle.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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Meal Planning & Diets/Lunch

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