School is back in session, which is a great time to recommit to your health goals with nutritional lunch options. Packing something that’s nutritious, portable, reheatable, and easy to make can feel like an overwhelming challenge. But this year, say goodbye to those lunchtime woes! We’re making back-to-school (or pack-your-own for us adults!) lunches easy with these four tips.
1. Start with a Healthy Breakfast
Starting with a healthy breakfast keeps you satiated throughout the day so you can focus on the day ahead, not lunch. Healthy options like breakfast blueberry-oatmeal cakes are easy to make over the weekend and freeze. Throughout the week, all you’ll have to do is reheat the cakes in the microwave for about 40 seconds and voila! Breakfast is served.
2. Don’t Skimp on Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and veggies should make up about half of each meal, so it’s important to mix up your sides to avoid monotony. Make fruit fun by creating fruit kabobs - simply cut up whatever fruit you have around the house into bite-sized pieces and thread them through wooden skewers. Pack them in a tupperware or foil for a portable serving of fruit.
If you’re having trouble getting enough vegetables, try swapping pasta or rice with cauliflower rice pilaf. Depending on how you season it, cauliflower rice can be paired with almost anything, making it a versatile and easy way to sneak in an extra serving of vegetables.
3. Add in Protein
Harvard studies have shown that while eating protein is an important part of maintaining a well-balanced diet, you should focus more on the source of protein than the quantity. With this in mind, cut back on red meat and use healthy protein sources, like nuts, fish, beans, or poultry in back-to-school lunches.
One easy way to pack the right kind of protein is to repurpose yesterday’s dinner. Cut up some paprika-herb rubbed chicken and wrap it in a whole-wheat tortilla with carrots, spinach, low-fat mayo, and cheese for a fresh and healthy lunch. To make it even more exciting, slice the wrap into pinwheels. You can try this method with almost anything in your fridge!
4. Make a Sweet Finish
Who doesn’t like finishing a meal with something sweet? Balancing health and sweetness isn’t as hard as it sounds. Swap that pre-made pudding or jello pack for homemade chocolate pudding. Made with unsweetened cocoa powder and low-fat milk, you can get that chocolate fix without the huge sugar spike.
For an even easier option, pack a few slices of your favorite dried fruit. Dried fruits contain more fiber than fresh fruit, which may contribute to a healthier heart. To keep the sugar level lower, read the label before buying to make sure there isn’t any added sugar and make sure to moderate the amount of dried fruit you pack.
A new season is starting, but it doesn’t mean you have to stress about lunches! A healthy breakfast, repurposing leftovers, and adding in some fruit and veggies are key to cultivating healthy habits as we enter in to the fall season.
Looking for more articles to help improve your health and support your heart? What about ways to live an active, healthy lifestyle as you get older? Check out more helpful articles just like this one!
Ron Martin is the Director of Marketing at Kaneka Ubiquinol. Ron’s dedication to lifelong learning and belief that “one cannot know too much” inspired a decades-long career centered around educating the public about health.