Around the nation kids are headed back to school. During a whirlwind of activities, packing a wholesome lunch is another top priority. Healthy eating habits at home should transcend into the school cafeteria. While perusing the grocery aisles, so many items can be misleading. Be sure to take a peek at those ingredients to make sure they meet your family’s wellness goals.
In the meantime, here’s a jumpstart to a healthy lunchbox.
Say “No” to Processed Meats
While it’s easy to snatch up a packet of processed meats at the grocery store, the truth of the matter is it’s not the healthiest decision to make for the kids or for their parents, either. The nitrates, sodium levels, and chemicals are items to avoid for optimal health goals.
Nutritionists agree that the best way to avoid processed meats but still have lean protein on hand for sandwiches is to prepare the meats over the weekend at home. Roasting a chicken or turkey during this timeframe is the ideal method. And if chicken is served during the week, go ahead and cook extra as lunchmeat for the days ahead.
Breads and Condiments
Health professionals recommend that whole wheat bread is the best choice. With so many to choose from, once again, it’s label looking time. Find a slice of bread that offers at least 3 grams of fiber and at 100 calories or less.
Pass on the high calorie mayo and instead use one or more of the following spread enhancers:
- Avocado spread
- Black bean spread
- Mild salsa
- Olive spread
- White or red vinegar
If possible, try to avoid cheese. But if cheese is a must, steer clear of fatty cheeses like cheddar and opt for Swiss cheese.
Nope to Pre-Packaged Sandwiches and Boxed Lunches
During a busy day, it can be so tempting to pick pre-packaged sandwiches to carve out some free time. But nutritionists repeatedly remind us to step back and walk away from it. More times than not, these “to go” sandwiches and boxed lunches are filled with white breads, preservatives, nitrates, high fat condiments, and cheeses.
Let’s face it, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a staple in our culture. And when the right items are chosen, it’s still a great sandwich for the whole family.
When shopping for peanut butter (a great unsaturated fat) and jelly, it’s recommended to go organic and avoid the following ingredients:
- Corn syrup
- Salt (a little is fine for the peanut butter)
- Artificial sweeteners
- Hydrogenated oils
A healthy peanut butter choice offers a multitude of benefits such as protein, iron, and B vitamins.
Preparing the family with a healthy lunch may take a little extra time but reaping the rewards of it is priceless.