We are always looking for healthy ideas for things to put in our lunches. My husband and I often take leftovers from the night before, but there often isn’t enough for our older son and he wouldn’t be able to heat up any of it. We are fortunate that right now our three youngest get lunches and snacks at their early childhood center. So I thought it would be helpful to compile a list of specific healthy lunch and snack ideas. Feel free to comment with any of your suggestions so I can add them, too.
Our rule of thumb is to pack the following types of food for our son’s lunches:
∞ Protein: sandwich (sunflower butter and jelly, Morningstar Farms burger, tuna or egg salad), yogurt, cheese and crackers, pita and hummus, etc.
∞ Vegetable: either fresh or leftover frozen or fresh veggie from the night before
∞ Crunchy starch: crackers, veggie straws, pretzels, chips, etc.
∞ Fruit: Fresh, canned or dried (see below). He often gets more than one because we send snacks as well.
Here are some specific ideas that fall into the last two categories (crunchy and fruit):
∞ Graham crackers: The healthy brand that we like is New Morning. We buy them in bulk from Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program. You can get cheap ones from Wal-Mart and Aldi, but they are not very healthy.
∞ Crackers: I used to love getting crackers at Whole Foods, but the way we go through them I couldn’t afford to get the healthy brands there anymore. Now we have found two Aldi versions of Triscuit and Wheat Thins that are cheap and not too bad health-wise. Cheez-its and Kashi crackers also go on sale and occasionally have coupons in the Sunday paper and online.
∞ Granola bars: Nature Valley, Target Archer Farms Simply Balanced, and Trader Joe’s seem to be the cheapest and healthiest I can find.
∞ Pretzels and veggie puffs: We have yet to find one brand that works best for this. The healthy ones like Snyder’s Organic and Newman’s Own are expensive and don’t have much per pack. We end up buying whatever is on sale and we have a coupon for. However, Trader Joe’s cheese and veggie puffs and very cheaply priced and we to get them when we can.
∞ Applesauce: Target seems to have the best price around. We buy the large size and divvy it up into small Gladware containers.
∞ Fruit leathers: Target (Archer Farms brand) seems to have the best deal on kosher and healthy fruit leathers. There is another kind by Clif that is sold at Sam’s in bulk, but they are a bit more expensive.
∞ Raisins and other dried fruit: Wal-Mart has the cheapest pack of kosher bulk raisins. Aldi comes a close second. Aldi also carries other cheap dried fruit like dried bananas, mango, blueberries, and other berry mixes. Sam’s Club has the best price on Craisins.
∞ Pudding: I have yet to find a good cheap healthy option for this. I hate seeing that long list of chemicals and artificial colors and flavors on many brands. The only healthy kosher one around is Kozy Shack, but they are much more expensive and have fewer flavors than other brands. We sometimes get a larger one and divvy it up, but it sometimes goes bad before we eat it all.
We ideas on how we package everything, see my post “Switch over your disposables!”
Any ideas that you like? Please share in the comments section.
Some of my kids like chickpeas from the can, some like canned corn, all like grape tomatoes, clementines, baby carrots and sliced cucumber, sliced apples, and nuts (but their schools are nut free so the nuts and granola bars are home-snacks). They all like pickles, olives, hearts of palm, melon, and mandarin orange cups. Some like felafel for a sandwich, or sliced egg or turkey on a roll or whole wheat bread, some like whole wheat or Barilla Plus noodles with cottage cheese. I try to vary the mains and the snacks so they don’t get bored of any of them. The vegetables fill them up and keep them calmer. Every once in a while I will give them a chocolate (cacao is healthy:) and chocolate is the least of the candy evils according to my sister-in-law the pediatric dentist). Thanks again for all your ideas always.
Great tips. Sounds like we have similar styles in what we like to buy! Have a great day!