Wondering What to Pack for School Lunches?
Here are 15 healthier brown-bag lunch options now available in your supermarket.
Can you hear it? It's the sound of lunch bags and lunchboxes being snapped
open. It's the sound of peanut butter lids being screwed off and pantry doors
being opened as lunches are packed every morning in homes across America. It's
back to the lunch-packing grind for parents, and many may be wondering what's
new in healthy supermarket options.
It's an important question, as each lunch offers an opportunity to improve
your child's diet. Lunchtime choices can make a big difference toward the
daily and weekly totals for calories, fat, saturated fat, fiber, sugar, and
- Using higher-fiber, 100% whole-wheat breads to make sandwiches instead of
white bread adds about 20 grams of fiber in a week's time, not to mention all
the nutrients whole grains provide.
- If you pack sliced apples in your child's lunch each day instead of a fruit
roll, you'll cut the refined sugar in your child's diet by 50 grams a week,
while adding some 20 grams of fiber to the weekly total. You'll also be giving
your child 27% of the recommended Daily Value for vitamin C, and 15% of the
Daily Value for vitamin E and potassium each day.
- Pack 3 ounces of carrot chips (from Grimmway Farms) in the lunchbox instead
of 2 ounces of potato chips, and your child gets 1,325 fewer snack calories
each week, 95 fewer grams of fat, 30 fewer grams of saturated fat, and 10 more
grams of fiber. The carrot chips will also add 270% of the Daily Value for
antioxidant vitamin A each day.
Apples and carrot chips aside, parents must find a balance between packing
healthy lunches and packing lunches that their kids will actually eat. To
assist them in this quest, food companies introduce new lunchbox products each
Have you looked in the dried fruit section lately? In resealable bags,
you'll find plenty of unsweetened and lightly sweetened choices, from tropical
pineapple and mango to the "berry-licious" flavors of blueberries,
cherries and "berry blend."
And food companies like Chiquita and Ready Pack are working to make fruits
and vegetables more convenient and fun. Chiquita has come out with Apple Bites
(presliced apples in both individual and big bags), Grape Bites (individual
bags), and Carrot Bites and Sugar Snap Peas (both packed with small containers
of ranch dip). Ready Pac sells individual packages of baby carrots and ranch
dip and celery stick with peanut butter. If you want to lose the dip, Grimmway
Farms sells snack packs of just baby carrots and 16-ounce bags of fun-to-eat
Carrot Chips. (These products do tend to be pricey, so try and get them when
they are on sale.)
Here's a roundup of some of the healthy lunch offerings you'll find in the