Monday, November 19, 2012

Snacks and Packed Lunches

A reader recently requested help with ideas for healthy snacks and lunches. For us, the key to lunches is planning ahead and being able to fly by the seat of your pants when you have forgotten to plan ahead. Double your dinner recipes as often as you can and freeze the leftovers in serving size portions to use for future lunches. Almost anything can be frozen, and it doesn't take any more time to boil two pounds of pasta than it does to boil one.

I found a BPA free divided lunch container at Aldi a few months ago for $2.50 and it has held Jon's lunches ever since. I love the challenge of filling up all three pockets. It's much more fun than just throwing a sandwich into a baggie. Sometimes I sneak and buy some snacks that he loves, like roasted peanuts or garlic sesame sticks. I seriously get a kick out of hiding them and then sneaking them into his lunch box for a surprise. Maybe I'm a nerd or maybe I just have too much time on my hands, but I have found that preparing his lunches is something quick and simple I can do to show him that he is special to me. Sometimes I have nothing prepared and have no idea what to pack and end up with a random mix of foods. I'm quite sure he has opened his lunch with a raised eyebrow a few times, but the surprise is part of the fun.

Here are some lunch and snack ideas which work for adults or toddlers. They are all quick and easy to whip up the night before. Remember, don't be afraid to mix and match. If you don't know how to make something, google it!
  • hummus with veggies or chips (homemade hummus is far tastier and less expensive than store bought)
  • baba ganoush (eggplant dip) and veggies or chips
  • hard boiled eggs with hot sauce
  • salad (duh!) (put the dressing in the bottom of a large jar and the salad on top, then shake it up when it's time to eat and your lettuce won't get all slimy!)
  • whole wheat muffins
  • whole wheat pancakes or tortillas with cream cheese or peanut butter
  • ants on a log
  • apples and peanut butter
  • cottage cheese and pinapple
  • fruit salad
  • nuts
  • pumpkin seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • leftovers from dinners
  • smoothies (you can make big batches and freeze)
  • soup (don't you dare buy that crap in a can!)
  • fresh fruit- apples, bananas, mangoes, peaches, pineapple, berries, kiwi, etc. Try something different every time you go to the store. 
  • rice cakes with cream cheese and bananas
  • chips and salsa
  • pinto or black bean dip and chips or veggies
  • guacamole and chips or veggies
  • raisins and sunflower seeds (my mom and I used to eat this when I was little. Looking back, I realize it was one of my favorite snacks and I was so excited when we had it. I can even remember the container she kept it in. Even though we usually ate cookies and donuts and other terrible stuff, that snack was my favorite.)
  • plain yogurt and fruit sauce
  • sliced apples and cheese (another favorite from my childhood) 
  • nut butters (you can make a butter from any nut or seed...just grind up in a food processor or high speed blender. that's how peanut butter is made! you may have to add a little extra oil or water to get it to mix up completely. try almonds, pumpkin seeds with garlic, cashews, etc)
  • applesauce
  • homemade granola bars
  • dried fruit
  • whole wheat sandwhiches with peanut butter or other nut butter and banana slices
  • trail mix or granola (buying ingredients in bulk and mixing your own is usually cheaper, and you don't have to pick out the things you don't like)
I'm not going to get into the details right now, but I have to say a word about cottage cheese, yogurt, etc. I know this seems insane, but you DO NOT want to buy the low fat or fat free versions of any food. You want the regular old full fat stuff. Why? Well, the low fat and fat free foods are often pumped full of chemicals and flavor enhancers to make up for the missing fat. These chemicals make you gain weight and poison your body. I know we have all been raised to believe fat is evil, but that's just not true. Of course you don't want to eat it all day every day, but in moderation, fat is really good for you...especially for your brain! Refined oils and trans fats are bad, but the natural fats that occur in dairy, nuts, avocados, olives, etc. are our friends. Mind blown? Welcome to the club. You can read more about this here.

Also, the 100 Days of Real Food blog has awesome lunch tips and pictures of several packed lunches. I love the visual inspiration. She always makes the food look so cute, which I'm sure helps encourage the kids to eat it. I love this whole blog, it really helped us when we first started our healthy eating.

What are your favorite snacks and sack lunches?

1 comment:

  1. I just found your blog from facebook. This is a great list. Thanks.