Farm to Lunchbox
Build a better lunchbox using four core nutritional building blocks.
With so many choices of physical boxes out there today, what we can do and put into the box seems endless. With two toddlers, I have tried A LOT of styles, shapes and sizes of “bento boxes”, stacking cylinders, and intricate/hard to open contraptions. A tried and true favorite (albeit a bit of an investment) is the Planet Box. We love the functionality of the materials used, durability, washability and longevity of this one. Several sizes and styles allow us to pack for a few hours at the park or daily back to school lunches.
As a mom and Nutrition/Health Coach, I value “eating the rainbow” while also keeping meals fun. It’s easy to get in a rut and pack the same thing day after day, as I know too well. It’s important to think about the week ahead and to use Sundays (when possible) to pick up necessary groceries. One example, what fruits do I want to use this week? Grapes? (A bunch goes a LONG way for small mouths a little each day) or maybe little clementines. Buying these small oranges in a 5lb. bag can be cost efficient when in season.
Also, packing lunches for me can’t take a ton of time, must use on hand items and maintain focus on the “Fun Four” to get everyone though the day.
What’s my Fun Four?
Why? We all know most everyone needs to eat more “real food” such as fruits and veggies while keeping processed foods at a minimum. Too much of the processed stuff hurts concentration, energy reserves deplete, and overall, we cannot perform at an optimal level with mediocre food (especially kids in school and trying to learn). Feed the brain and the body will thank you. (Meals that stick with the Fun Four are also amazing for our skin and hair ladies)!
Let’s look at 10 really great, quick lunch options that maintain that Fun Four. These are great for adults and kiddos!
1. Half nut butter (or sunbutter) with bananas on multi grain bread, a low sugar yogurt, and cherry tomatoes.
2. Turkey/spinach/cheese pinwheels on a multigrain wrap, watermelon chunks, and celery sticks with cream cheese.
3. Half tuna fish (or tuna salad) on multigrain bread, kiwi, and edamame in shells (fun to pop out).
4. Leftover rice, ground turkey (or tofu) and cheese in a container with side of tortilla chips/any salsa and apple slices.
5. Veggie and black bean burrito on a multigrain wrap, salsa (or tomatoes), and grapes.
6. Green apple slices, nut butter for dipping, multi grain crackers, and carrot sticks with yogurt.
7. Leftover stir fry with rice/veggies/protein, strawberries, and a cheese stick.
8. Egg salad in a whole grain mini pita bread, mixed berries and cucumber slices.
9. Chicken salad scoop on a bed of greens, pita chips and a peach.
10. Leftover soup or casserole, applesauce cup, and cucumber sticks with ranch dressing.
*bonus idea: hard boiled egg, yogurt cup with granola topping, shredded carrot/zucchini with a vinaigrette, honeydew/cantaloupes slices.
So these are a few ideas to help you plan, enjoy and start to make lunches more interesting. Don’t forget your Fun Four to build your better lunch box for a well balanced, nourishing, satisfying, and fun way to fuel yourself and your family for the day. And add a little note in for your kiddo when they go back to school. It’s their perfect reminder of how much you care.
—Courtney Daylong, Health & Nutrition Coach