Quick, Easy & Healthy Lunch Ideas Your Child Will Love

back to school lunch bag and appleBy Donna Barnett, MA, RDN, CDN 

How can you get all of the food groups into one lunch box?

  • Try a turkey sandwich with 2 slices of low sodium turkey, 1 slice of mozzarella cheese, lettuce, tomato and a medium apple. For extra fun use a large cookie cutter to cut your child’s sandwich into shapes!
  • Pack hummus with whole grain pita bread, yogurt or yogurt dip, cucumbers, and sliced oranges.
  • How about a quesadilla with cheese and beans? Send salsa and guacamole for dipping.
  • Tired of sandwiches, how about roll-ups or wraps? Try a veggie wrap with hummus or ranch dressing with some edamame beans and add a clementine.
  • Send water or low fat milk to keep them hydrated!

Limited time to put together a full meal? Pack a variety of sides (like those listed below) to fill them up.

  • Sliced tomato with low-fat cheese
  • Peanut butter or almond butter with apple slices or on whole grain crackers
  • Yogurt with fruit and granola
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Baby carrots and ranch with pretzels and applesauce
  • Fruit cups or fruit slices
  • String cheese or cheese wheels
  • Pickles

Leftovers make great lunches! Make it easy on yourself and make extra of the yummy foods your children like to eat at dinner time.

  • Try pasta with chicken, broccoli and a little olive oil
  • Beans and corn with diced tomatoes, chicken and avocado topped with 1 to 2 tablespoons of their favorite dressing.

Looking for some healthier snacks to pack? Try some of the options below.

  • Baked chips or tortillas
  • Pretzels
  • Popcorn
  • Low fat pudding cups
  • Granola bars
  • Snap peas
  • Cheese and whole grain crackers

Here are some fun snacks you can prepare on the weekends to have on hand for the week!

Nut-free trail mix:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • dried fruit
  • Dried cereals
  • Chocolate chips

Add all the ingredients to a bowl. Stir to combine.

Fudgy black bean brownie recipe:

  • 1 can black beans (rinse and drain)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips

Add all the ingredients, except the chocolate chips, to a bowl. Blend until smooth and pour into an 8 x 8 inch baking dish. Sprinkle the dark chocolate chips on top and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Donna Barnett is a registered dietitian at Connecticut Children’s.

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