Lunch Box Recipes for Kids (or Adults!)

A healthy approach for the lunch bunch: Mix a lean protein with whole grains and fresh garden goods, then add a sensible treat.

Red Lunch Box

Photo: Randy Mayor

Ideas for the Lunch-Box Brigade

Every mom or dad who makes lunches for kids knows the goals: avoid total jettisoning of lunch into trash by picky eater; hope she or he doesn't trade healthy apple for can of soda; nudge the menu past the old standbys before complete boredom sets in on Day 123 (kids need lunches, on average, 180 times a year). Here are a few strategies built around some core preferences.

Pizzadilla and Carrot Crunch Lunch Box

Photo: Randy Mayor

Pizza + Carrot Crunch

Low-fat ranch doubles as a dip for both pizza and veggies.

½ CL Pizzadilla + 10 baby carrots + 1 tablespoon low-fat ranch + 1 (4-oz.) cup unsweetened applesauce

Stats: 250 calories, 3.4g sat fat, 594mg sodium

Chicken Salad Pita Lunch Box

Photo: Randy Mayor

The Pita Pocketeer

Low-fat Greek yogurt is the base for this tangy chicken salad. Chocolate kisses are perfectly portioned treats.

CL Creamy Chicken Salad (1/2 cup) with mixed greens in half a 6-inch whole-wheat pita + 1 medium apple + 4 milk chocolate kisses

Stats: 446 calories, 4.6g sat fat, 451mg sodium

Roast Beef Sandwich Lunch Box

Photo: Randy Mayor

Beefy Sammie + Fruit Stick

Sandwiches can pile up sodium. Balance it with no-salt sides.

Sandwich: 2 oz. lower-sodium roast beef, lettuce, 2 slices tomato, 1/2-oz. slice white cheddar, 2 teaspoons light mayo on whole-grain bread + 2 pineapple and strawberry fruit kebabs + 1/2 oz. unsalted peanuts

Stats: 456 calories, 6g sat fat, 508mg sodium

Whole-Wheat PB&J Lunch Box

Photo: Randy Mayor

Whole-Wheat PB&J

An old favorite gets a healthy spin with a WW bagel.

1 tablespoon peanut butter, 2 teaspoons jam on 1 mini whole-wheat bagel + 1 oz. whole-grain chips (about 16) + 1 small banana

Stats: 467 calories, 2.6g sat fat, 413mg sodium

Salad with Chicken and Almonds Lunch Box

Photo: Randy Mayor

For the Rabbits

Give salad greens some oomph with lots of lean protein.

Mixed greens, 2 oz. rotisserie chicken, 1 tablespoon sliced almonds, 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes, 1 hard-cooked egg, 2 tablespoons oil-and-vinegar dressing + 2 cups 94%-fat-free popcorn + 1 orange, peeled

Stats: 444 calories, 4g sat fat, 460mg sodium

Couscous Salad Lunch Box

Photo: Randy Mayor

Let's Get Mediterranean

Make-ahead couscous can yield several lunches.

CL Couscous Salad (3/4 cup) + 2 tablespoons hummus + 8 whole-wheat pita chips + 1 cup fresh grapes

Stats: 430 calories, 2.2g sat fat, 715mg sodium

The Cafeteria Club

Photo: Randy Mayor

The Cafeteria Club

Save the cheese for the skewers, and opt for tasty guacamole instead of mayo for the wrap. Slice the wrap into medallions and skewer on toothpicks for less mess at lunchtime.

Wrap: 1 oz. oven roasted turkey breast, 1/2 oz. low sodium ham, 1 slice crumbled center cut bacon, 1 tablespoon guacamole on half a whole wheat wrap (such as Flatout) + tomato mozzarella skewer (cut one lower sodium part-skim mozzarella stick into fourths and skewer with cherry tomatoes alternately) + 8 vanilla wafers

Stats: 439 calories, 6g sat fat, 795 mg sodium

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