For the typical busy mama, the quickest and easiest way to put a lunchbox together is to make a sandwich and add a couple of snacks. Here are a few guidelines to help pack a simple, healthy and delicious lunch your kids will love:
1. Every lunchbox should contain carbs, protein, healthy fats, calcium-rich foods (this could double as your protein), two servings of veggies and one serving of fruit.
2. Because my kids don’t eat a lot of meat and their protein intake is usually low, I make sure to double the amount of protein. Some great non-meat protein snack choices are string cheese, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, edemame, chickpeas and nuts & seeds (which I mix with dried fruit).
3. For veggies & fruit, I recommend eating “the rainbow”, meaning one red/orange, one green/blue/purple and one yellow/white. Some great choices for colorful produce are cherry tomatoes, carrots, kiwi slices, blueberries, purple grapes, yellow peppers and dates (which are considered white).
Try to get as much organic produce as you can afford and if possible, choose fruits and veggies that are grown locally and are in season so that they are not only the freshest, but also more affordable. Local produce in September (from the state of NY) is: apples, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, pears, plums, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers and peppers.
Editor’s note: If you have a picky eater that will eat a sandwich, buy one of the those fun Sandwich Cutters to keep things interesting. Several companies make them, in shapes like dolphins, butterflies, puzzle pieces, etc.