Trying to a pack a decent lunch is hard enough when you're trying to get out of the house fast in the morning. But as schools and day cares increasingly ban peanut butter (and in some cases all nut-containing products) from lunch boxes, the task escalates to a whole new level of difficult.
Luckily peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are only one of many delicious lunch options. Lunch doesn't have to be complicated either: you can make a yummy lunch from as few as 3 ingredients.
We've put together a bunch of easy, tasty recipes for healthy back-to-school eats that will satisfy the most picky eater, but keep you away from the nut conundrum as well.
5 out-of-the-box lunch ideas:
1. Strawberry & Cream Cheese Sandwich: Sliced strawberries and reduced-fat cream cheese come together in a sandwich for this quick and healthy lunchbox treat.
2. Buffalo Chicken Wrap: Moms and Dads like wraps because they're neat and compact--so beware: ours is messy and spicy. This fiery combination of buffalo chicken in a modern wrap is guaranteed to drip. Get out the big napkins and have a ball!
3. Mini Greek Pizza Muffins: Nearly everyone loves pizza and these mini-muffins are totally portable, too. All the flavors of a Greek pizza make these savory muffins bite-size treats for adults and kids alike.
4. Turkey & Pepper Roll-Up: Crunchy bell pepper strips rolled in deli turkey (you can use ham too) makes a simple and satisfying protein-packed pick-me-up.
To make, spread 1 tablespoon reduced-fat cream cheese on 2 slices reduced-sodium deli turkey slices, top with 1/2 cup red bell pepper slices and roll. Makes 1 serving.
Per serving: 114 calories; 5 g fat (3 g sat, 1 g mono); 28 mg cholesterol; 6 g carbohydrate; 12 g protein; 1 g fiber; 486 mg sodium; 182 mg potassium.
5. No-Bake Cookies: Your kids will love helping you make these peanut butter-graham treats.
TOTAL TIME: 10 minutes
8 whole-wheat graham cracker squares, finely ground
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons honey
4 teaspoons unsweetened coconut
Combine ground whole-wheat graham crackers, raisins, peanut butter and honey in a small bowl. Pat into 8 cookies and press lightly in coconut.
Makes 4 servings, 2 cookies each
Per serving: 313 calories; 13 g fat (2 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 46 g carbohydrate; 7 g protein; 4 g fiber; 284 mg sodium; 82 mg potassium. What you get: Fiber, protein, potassium.
More tips and ideas for fun, healthy lunches:
- Delight kids with dips. Diving vegetables and fruits into yummy dips makes lunch more fun. Offer apple slices with a half cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt; serve carrot sticks with a side of hummus.
Get the family involved. Allow your kids to participate in the grocery shopping and encourage them to choose healthy snacks. This will increase the likelihood that they will eat these snacks instead of less healthy ones.
- Keep healthfulness in mind. Although there are lots of convenience products available to make packing your kid's lunchbox a snap, those products are often loaded with saturated fat, calories and sodium.
- Fruits and vegetables add color and crunch while providing beneficial vitamins and minerals.
- Kids think foods like wraps, smoothies and dips are fun to eat.
By Michelle Edelbaum
Michelle is the associate editor of interactive for EatingWell Media Group. In between editing and writing, she enjoys sampling the tasty results of the easy, healthy recipes that the EatingWell Test Kitchen cooks are working on.
Related Links from EatingWell:
Get more information and recipes on how to keep your kids healthy.
Find easy, quick dinner recipes kids will love.
- Sign up for EatingWell's free weekly newsletters and get healthy recipes, diet tips and nutrition news delivered right to your inbox.
- Get a free trial issue when you subscribe to EatingWell Magazine.