Back to Work or School Lunches
Whether you are returning back to work if you work on a school campus of any kind, are a parent of a child going back to school or even transitioning from a work from home life to more time back in the office, you may find it beneficial to have some easy to pack lunch ideas! Sometimes children (and adults too!) may prefer having a lunch more composed of snack-like items. If this is a route you would like to take, either for yourself or your child, it's important to ensure that there is enough adequacy both in terms of volume and energy density from different food groups available in a preparation like this. A helpful way to conceptualize this can be to break down the meal into all of the food groups that you will be consuming. Aiming to have at least 3-5 food groups with a meal can be helpful - carbohydrate, protein, fat, dairy and produce (fruit or vegetable). With more comfort level and understanding of pairing up these food groups too, the items can become very interchangeable to whatever you or your child may like or given what you have on hand! It can be helpful to experiment with the volume of any given food. You may find that you like the crunch of the produce with any of the below examples, but that it's important to focus on having more quantity in the meal coming from more energy dense food groups such as carbohydrate, protein and/or fat. Be sure to notice how different examples impact hunger and fullness signals, as well as overall satisfaction with the meals. Viewing it as an experiment can be really helpful to know that you can always learn from each experience and do things differently another time if needed. Examples:
Pita chips/pita bread (carbohydrate), hummus (protein and fat), olives (fat), cucumbers and tomatoes (produce), feta cheese on the hummus (dairy).
Crackers (carbohydrate), deli meat (protein), cheese cubes (dairy), marinated artichokes, and grapes (produce).
Banana bread (carbohydrate), cottage cheese (dairy), cantaloupe (produce), and pumpkin seeds (fat).
Tortilla chips (carbohydrate), black bean dip (protein), guacamole (fat), shredded cheese on the dip (dairy), and salsa (produce).
Bagel (carbohydrate), hard boiled eggs (protein), string cheese (dairy) and strawberries (produce).
Additionally, you can consider packing beverages with calories to help boost the staying power of any of these meals such as milk, chocolate milk or fruit/vegetable juice. Adjust as needed given your own or your child's hunger cues and what seems to work well vs what might come home in the lunch box. On that note, investing in a cute and reliable lunch bag for yourself or your child can really help increase interest level in wanting to pack and take a lunch in a stylish bag, so maybe it's time to treat yo'self to a new one!