Providing kids with healthy lunches is important, but not always an easy task. It’s simple to throw a little spinach and quinoa into a lunchbox, but it would be even better to pack a lunch that the little guy and girl will enjoy. With the help of registered dietitian, mom and daily lunchbox packer, Holley Grainger, we pulled together a list of pointers to help you build a better lunch in a flash.
Create a lunch-preparation station in your kitchen.
Work smarter, not harder people! If all your typical tools and resources are kept in the same place, compiling lunches will be much more systematic and efficient. The time-consuming hunt for utensils, and the opening and closing of cabinets searching for that best Tupperware can easily be eliminated. Gather all lunch boxes, baggies, utensils and napkins, keep them a united force, and save that energy for sending love-filled lunches. A note from mom is a five-second gesture that can brighten any day.
Buy in bulk.
Certain items, such as cheeses, meats, and veggies can be purchased in larger quantities and frozen for later use, which will save you money by eliminating last-minute trips to the grocery store. For instance, ground beef is a great item to purchase in bulk, and leftovers can be used in dinners and lunches. Just be sure to date these items and package them appropriately for optimal freezing. Grainger suggests using the weekend to prepare fruits and vegetables: “Peel and chop carrots, cut cucumbers, wash grapes, and bake sweet potatoes. The more you can do at one time, the quicker it will be to throw together lunches for the week!”
Repurpose last night’s dinner.
Pull a sneak attack and give last night’s dinner an upgrade. Contrary to popular belief, lunch does not have to be your standard deli meat and cheese sandwich with a side of chips. If you served a delicious roasted chicken with veggies for dinner, use the leftover meat to prepare an avocado chicken salad. It's loaded with protein and monounsaturated fats to keep them full, alert, and nourished, while putting every bit of those leftovers to use!
Related: Quick Fix Suppers
Buy individually packaged food items.
If done properly, buying individually packed foods can be a quick, mindless, and effective method to packing lunches in a hurry. Cut a few stalks of fresh celery and pair them with a portion-controlled cup of peanut butter or toss a bag of pre-popped popcorn for a satisfying crunch! Grainger suggests swapping pistachios or almonds in place of chips and opting for pre-wrapped single serve foods like Mini Babybel Cheese to help with portion control. These small ahead-of-time purchases will make packing quick lunches a no brainer.
Prepare a go-to dish for the week.
Having something premade, that is just as delicious served warmed as it is served cold, can come in handy. Pasta salad is virtually effortless to make, and it’s insanely delicious. Add your choice of veggies and dressing, and store in your refrigerator for lunches for the week!