Healthy Sack Lunches

If you’ve found you put on a few pounds or just want a more nutritious diet, you can create your own healthy sack lunches and boost your nutrition, while lowering your calorie intake. There’s also been a lot of focus on whether school lunches are healthy or not. If question the choices for your child’s school lunches, consider packing them a healthier version. Sack lunches can provide all the nutrients you need and even be delicious.

Make a tasty salad for yourself, but don’t put on the dressing.

One of the things that make salad soggy is adding the dressing ahead of time. Having a small thermal jar available with a tight fitting lid is important. You create your salad in a container that also has a tight fitting lid, leaving a small area at the side for the salad dressing. Pack it in an insulated container. One of my favorites is meatless taco salad. It’s not only healthy both kids and adults like it. Stack romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, black beans that are rinsed and drained and shredded cheese in the jar. You can use your favorite salad dressing for toppers. Add a side of fruit. Packing lunches in thermal containers with a bottle of frozen water can help keep it fresh.

Get creative with pita pockets.

Pita pockets make lunch more fun and you can stuff them with anything. I love brocoslaw in mine, but then, I just plain love brocoslaw. I’ve had a delicious recipe that used barbecue onions drizzled on top, too. You can include sliced beef, lean chicken, even packaged salad, always making sure the dressing is packed in a side container to add later. Occasionally, I use a creamy dressing. Then, I use a small thermal container to transport it.

Create a pasta salad.

You’ll have the perfect filling lunch when you create a pasta salad with loads of veggies. One of my favorites uses grilled vegetables, which include zucchini, red onion and bell peppers but I’ve included other grilled veggies too. I’ve even tried grilled tomatoes. Brush the veggies with olive oil before grilling, then add them to the cooked pasta. You can make a dressing that travels well from a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, a bit of honey—about a teaspoon or less, a handful of basil leaves, 2 tsp of lemon zest, 1/3 cup of lemon juice and and an equal amount of extra virgin olive oil. Put the ingredients into a blender or food processor until creamy.

Create a salad in a jar. Raw broccoli has more staying power than greens and so does grated carrots and chicken. That’s why you can add the dressing to this one before you leave the house. Mix plain yogurt with ranch dressing and add to the jar. Eat it out of the jar or in a pita pocket or tortilla wrap.

  • Need a cold pack for your thermal lunch bag? Try freezing Greek yogurt. The texture changes a bit, but it’s still good for you. Do a test run before you pack it in the lunch bag and see if you and the kids like it.
  • Raw veggies and homemade hummus are a great addition to a sack lunch.
  • Try pinwheels made with a variety of nut butters and dried fruit. Slice the crust off bread. Slather it with cashew, almond or any type of nut butter and sprinkle on dried cranberries or other dry fruit. Roll into a long log, insert toothpicks to hold together and slice for a yummy sandwich.
  • Hints for better sack lunches include using greens that are less likely to wilt—kale, cabbage and radicchio instead of lettuce or spinach. Stick with dressings that have an oil and vinegar or citrus base.

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