Pack a healthy lunch – part 1

Packing a healthy lunch and keeping it safe.

Kids are back in school and routines have started to settle into place. This may include packing lunches for school and work. Packing a lunch can save money and be varied to include foods you enjoy, including leftovers or your favorite sandwich. Michigan State University Extension recommends packing a lunch to take to school or work. Wherever it is you are taking a sack-lunch to, here are some tips you can use.

Look in the refrigerator to see what leftovers are available. It could be chicken, roast beef or pizza. Be creative – you don’t have to eat leftovers in the same form they were for dinner. Here is an example: Cut-up leftover chicken to have as part of a salad, or make chicken salad using light mayonnaise to have with whole wheat crackers instead of on bread.

To keep things healthy add a favorite fresh vegetable or fruit. Cut them up so they are easier to eat. Kids might not peel an entire orange but they would eat sections of an orange. String cheese is also a fun and convenient item to pack in a lunch. Remember to select from all of the food groups and involve the whole family in the lunch preparation process. This practice will help children learn to make healthy and affordable lunches.

Packed lunches also give us the opportunity to use portion control. To maintain a healthy life style, measure your food using measuring cups and spoons to get the right amount. Sometimes we try to guess the amount which may be too little, or too much. To help with portion controls refer to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NIH) website. The article, fact sheet and portion distortion pages are very informative and will help you see how you can take control of your portions.

Taking your lunch to school or work can help you in many ways. Start a routine of packing your lunch or make it a family event each night by packing lunches together. This will give you control of a healthy and portion size lunch.

For more on how to keep your healthy lunch cold once it's packed, read part 2.

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