Healthy Lunch Ideas

The back to school season can be hectic. Between getting your kids to the bus, helping them with science projects, and taking them to soccer practice, it is easy to get stuck in a rut of packing bagged chips, prepackaged deli meat, and fruit drinks. Revitalize the lunch box routine with these healthy, convenient options and tips.

Start with a fruit and vegetable

Ensure that you and your kids get a serving of fruit and vegetables at lunch by packing them first. For vegetables, try baby carrots and sliced bell peppers with 1-2 tablespoons dressing or hummus. Fresh or frozen berries mixed with low-fat yogurt, unsweetened applesauce cups, bananas, or grapes, are great options. If your kiddo isn’t a fan of fruits and vegetables by themselves, add them to their sandwich. Try banana slices with nut butter or tomato slices and baby spinach with low-fat cheese.

Keep proteins lean

For your protein stick with lean deli meats, canned tuna or chicken (skip oil packed and opt for water instead), or grilled chicken strips in sandwiches, wraps, or salads. For non-meat eaters try low-fat cheese sticks, hard boiled eggs, or nut packs; they’re nutritious and easy to pack.

Add a serving of low-fat dairy

Low-fat dairy foods include milk and yogurt. Your kids can purchase milk at school, or you can pack yogurt cups. Both are convenient and nutritious; just be sure they do not have too much added sugar. Low-fat cow’s milk, unsweetened almond milk, and plain Greek yogurt also go well in smoothies and protein shakes if you’re in need of a quick grab and go option.

Stick with whole grains

Whole grain breads, tortillas, and wraps are perfect for sandwiches. Pre-portioned popcorn and veggie chips, like the Medifast popcorn and crackers, are healthy and convenient.

Pick water and ditch the sugary drinks

People get plenty of sugar from the foods they eat; they don’t need any extra from their drinks. Skip the sugar filled juice boxes and sodas; opt for a water bottle instead. Try a water bottle that has a frozen insert inside to keep water cold until lunch time. If the taste of water is too boring, add fresh fruit, like slices of lemon or strawberries.

Involve the kids

Let your children help with packing their lunch. Have them decide which fruit or type of sandwich they want. Ask your kids before you head to the grocery store to pick two or three different veggies that can be packed. This helps promote making healthy choices, and they’ll be more likely to eat what’s packed. Have them actually prepare the lunch with you too; it’ll give everyone time away from the TV and game systems to talk about their day.

And don’t forget to have fun with it! Use cookie cutters to make sandwiches into new shapes. Pack sweet or silly notes in the lunchbox. Make rainbow fruit kabobs or ants on a log (celery filled with peanut butter topped with raisins. No real ants included!).

Try new things

Let lunch time be an opportunity to try new things. Instead of a turkey sandwich on white bread, mix it up a little; try a turkey, avocado, and spinach wrap. If you’re having your lean and green meal for lunch, get creative. Grilled chicken tastes great in a lettuce wrap with alfalfa sprouts, avocado, and tomato. Try zucchini noodles with shrimp and a light vinaigrette. Scrape out the seeds of a cucumber and fill with tuna. Check out the Medifast blog for more recipes and ideas.


Meet a Medifast Intern!

SaraMiles_HeadshotSarah Miles is the current Nutrition and Wellness intern at Medifast this summer. She is working on her Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition Science with Kaplan and is hoping to pursue a career in nutrition after graduation.  When she’s not helping with research and various projects at Medifast, Sarah enjoys spending as much time outside as possible. She loves living an active lifestyle by hiking and swimming with her two dogs anytime she can.