Life's busy, especially for parents during the school year, so it's easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to filling the lunchbox. Without making the routine more complicated, why not give those lunchbox faves like PB&J a healthy update? The kiddos won't miss the calories in these quick hacks to classics.
Take the PB&J Beyond Jelly
Here are three healthy lunch ideas that take that sandwich in a cleaner, leaner direction.
- Ditch the jelly. Use fruit to add sweetness instead. Sliced bananas are a time-honored tradition, but be creative and mix it up with sliced apples, pictured above, diced strawberries or whole blueberries. Kiwi is jam-packed with Vitamin C. Any or all of those make for a Berry Good Sandwich.
- Switch up your butters. If going on the fresh fruit route, sweeten the deal by using the incredibly popular Nutella instead of peanut butter. An especially good partner with strawberries. Almond butter and apples are a great combo, too.
- Sneak in some healthy crunch. Try recreating a deconstructed Ants on a Log between two slices of whole grain. Chopped celery complements the creamy butter and the chewy raisins.
- Add a delicious dip. Pack a cup of applesauce - such as unsweetened Mott's Unsweetened Strawberry Kiwi - so kids can dip their PB&J for extra fun.
Lighten Up That Favorite Sammie
Apply these easy-to-follow tips for cutting saturated fat and sugars from 'most any sandwich.
- Just a little less cheese. Use lean protein such as chicken, turkey or ham, and trim the amount of cheese by one-third. Instead of two slices, for instance, go for one. The calorie savings add up.
- Veggies rule! Try hummus as a sandwich spread, topping with sliced cucumber, bell peppers, sprouts.
- Skinny bread's a thing. Cut carbs by building sandwiches on the thin bread or rolls now found in most supermarket bakery departments, or roll fillings into whole wheat or veggie-based tortillas.
Healthy Up Hot Classics
Many kids crave the warming comfort of a hot meal, but don't want to stand in the lunch line. These three creations fit neatly into an insulated container.
- Healthy Creamy Mac-n-Cheese gets its velvety texture from non-fat Greek Yogurt and its nutty character from nutritional yeast. Make a batch for dinner, send leftovers for lunch.
- For the fast food fan, Just Like Wendy's Chili is ultra-satisfying. Toss in some Baked Tortilla Chips for scooping up the good stuff.
- Potato Soup is like a big hug from Mom, and this recipe's easy to make after dinner's done. Just double up on the mashed potatoes and turn 'em into soup in less than 30 minutes.