My Food Diary

Quick & Healthy Cold Lunch Ideas!

Posted by: Tracy  :  in topic: At the Training Table, Thoughts

Well, it’s back to school and you know what that means….  Time to go crazy figuring out how to possibly come up with fun, quick and healthy cold lunch ideas that will make us moms AND our kids feel good!  The usual choices are a hot lunch menu that reads like a child’s nutrition nightmare- corn puppies, pizza and hot dogs- OH MY!  …or the convenient yet disgusting, pre-packaged, non-foods!  What’s a mom to do???  I’ve found a few ways to pack a fun and quick, yet healthy cold lunch that my kids actually WANT to take.


Five Tips for Packing a Delicious and Nutritious Cold Lunch


1. READ LABELS- Lots of nutritious sounding packables are really NOT!  Stay away from anything with long lists of ingredients, high fructose corn syrup or trans fats.


2. INVEST- I strongly suggest investing in a thermal food container and an ice pack, or one of those cool containers with an ice pack built right into the lid.  A couple of these sneaky tools help make packing a healthy cold (or hot) lunch a real breeze.


3. MAKE A LIST- Ask your child what healthy items they like in their lunch.  You’ll know what to buy at the store and have a few ideas to choose from.  This is also creates an opportunity to talk with your kids about what foods are and are not healthy.


4. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX-  If your kids don’t like sandwiches, try slices of turkey or ham spread with low-fat spreadable cheese and some pickles and rolled up for an easy non-sandwich alternative.  Soups and pastas are also easy alternatives to the basic sandwich.


5. INCLUDE DIPS AND SPRINKLES- We know kids love dipping and sprinkling!  If a small container of low-fat ranch dressing or a container of parmesan cheese gets em to gobble up more of the good stuff- GO FOR IT!!


Here’s just a few of our fav’s to get you started:


Pump You Up PB&J

Natural PB (Skippy makes a great no stirring necessary version) & spreadable fruit on whole wheat- or whole grain high fiber white, if needed


Ham, Roast Beef or Turkey rolled up with a slice or REAL cheese in a high fiber tortilla.  Add lettuce, tomatoes or cucumber slices for extra crunch and nutritional punch!


Cooked Pasta with marinara or Healthy Mac & Cheese

in a thermal food container-

throw in a little container of parmesan to sprinkle on, too! YUM!


Soup in a thermal food container

            Think chicken noodle, beef stew, tomato or ????

            Get creative and make your own to serve all week!


Pizza on the Fly

Pack a tortilla or pita bread with a container of pizza sauce, part skim mozzarella and some turkey pepperoni- kids can pile it on like a pizza, or roll it up


Leftover Lasagna, Casserole or other baked dishes in a thermal food container



Don’t forget the sides


Cooked pasta with a little light ranch or Italian dressing and cubed cheese makes an easy ‘pasta salad’


If your kids don’t love salad, try packing just leaves of fresh spinach with some low-fat dip


Baked pita chips with hummus


Pirate’s Booty or Chedd-Air


Cut up soft pita with a cup of natural PB


Watermelon, strawberries, blueberries or grapes- mix em all together for extra fun


Healthy Yogurt Cups


No sugar added fruit cups


Green beans right out of the can pack great and are easy to eat



Where’s the Treat??  Hot lunches almost always feature a sweet treat so, to satisfy a sweet tooth and keep your troops in the game, toss in one of the following


A low cal candy-bar type granola bar (think 100-calorie Kudos bars or Kids Chocolate Brownie power-bar)


A small piece of chocolate


A serving (count it out & let the kids help!) of organic animal crackers or ginger snaps


Home made trail mix- large on the almonds and dried fruit, light on the candy pieces!!


Happy Packing!  Now go get in the game!!

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