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Healthy lunch box ideas for kids
If your family is anything like ours, getting your kids to eat isn’t tough – but getting them to eat healthy is another story. We’ve searched far and wide to bring you the most delicious snacks you can easily swap out to boost your kids’ nutrition. (And they’re all perfect to pack in our colorful and hard-working insulated lunch bags!)
Swap out PB&J for a PB&B
We all remember pulling a pale, squashed PBJ out of our lunch bags as kids… with that dark purple splotch of jelly seeping through the soggy white bread. (Bleh.)
Why not give your kids a healthy sammie worth celebrating? A peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat is packed with 17 g of protein, 7 g of fiber, complex carbs and healthy unsaturated fats. This combo can help kids feel full and energized throughout the afternoon.
Slicing up half a medium banana instead of spreading on two tablespoons of jam adds potassium and cuts out 10 g of sugar! You can even layer in sliced strawberries for a touch of sweetness and a big dose of vitamin C.
Swap out juice boxes for a reusable water bottle
Single-serving drink boxes are convenient and fun, but many also contain artificial color, flavoring and preservatives. Even 100% fruit juices can contain up to 20 g of sugar per pouch!
Instead, try infusing a pitcher of water with citrus slices, torn fresh herbs or muddled berries at home. Combine together herbs and fruits (like strawberry-basil or blueberry-mint) for a refreshing change of pace. Leave your pitcher to infuse overnight in the fridge and pour into a leak-proof water bottle.
Our roomy new Lunch Buddy Thermals feature an elastic-topped mesh side pocket that’s perfect for toting the kids’ water bottles to school and back each day. (And the fun prints are irresistible!)
Swap out applesauce for apple slices
Packing a large, sliced apple instead of a cup of applesauce can double your kids’ fiber intake (5.4 g vs 2.7 g), boost their vitamin C (10.3 mg vs 2.7 mg) and provide them with the beneficial antioxidants contained in the skin of the apple.
Kids love to eat raw apples plain as a healthful snack, or dip slices in a delicious nut or seed butter for added protein and a salty kick. If you want to keep the convenience factor, toss in a whole apple or nab a segmented slicer tool to make quick work of lunch prep.
If you do decide to sometimes opt for applesauce, look for healthier varieties made without added sugar or artificial preservatives. Or make your own unsweetened applesauce, and be sure to leave the skins on!
Swap out chips for nearly anything else
Do your kids crave something salty to go with their meals? (Us too!) Steer clear of the fat, sodium and calorie bombs that are potato chips, which have been scientifically linked to weight gain, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Instead, why not offer your kids one of these tasty (and nutritious) treats?
- Roasted pumpkin seeds
- Deli turkey-wrapped cucumber slices
- Nuts (Be sure to check your school’s allergen policy first)
- Edamame, boiled or shelled and roasted
- Air-popped popcorn (It’s a whole grain!)
- Cheese cubes
- Whole wheat pretzels
- Celery sticks with nut or seed butter and raisins, or with cream cheese and dried cranberries
Swap out pudding cups for Greek yogurt
Kids love spooning up creamy treats at lunchtime. But when you’re packing their lunch bags, think Greek: While the calorie count and amount of calcium are essentially the same, a serving of Greek yogurt can provide as much as 20 times the protein of an individual pudding cup.
Stick to plain Greek yogurt for the least sugar, and add sliced berries or a little honey for sweetness. If the kids want the flavored kind, choose one with sugar near the end of the ingredient list: The first three ingredients should be milk, live and active cultures and fruit.
Keep their yogurt – and the rest of their healthy food swap-outs – cool until lunchtime in a classic Thermal Tote personalized with your child’s name and favorite embroidered Icon-It design. Your kids will be eating healthy and noshing in style!