Writer / Elizabeth Blosh

Summer is winding down and that means it’s time for the kiddos to be back in school. Lots of schools offer wonderful hot lunch programs, but maybe it’s time to consider the benefits of packing your own lunch. Besides being cost effective, packing a lunch can give you many dietary benefits. To help you get out of your brown bag blues, I have some helpful tips.

Keeping your refrigerator and cupboards stocked with the groceries you need for packing a healthy lunch will keep you on track. Pre-plan your week’s meals and get everything in one trip before the week begins.

Packing a lunch allows you not only to control the portions, but it ensures your kids (and yourself) are getting a balanced meal. I recommend two servings of veggies, one serving of fruit, a healthy protein and appropriate carbs to keep the brain and body alert throughout the day.

Spice up Your Sandwich
Using oil and vinegar in your tuna salad or chicken salad instead of mayo creates a tasty sandwich that doesn’t run as big a health risk. See recipe for sandwich switch-up.

Ditch the Ranch
Using ranch dressing to get your kids to eat vegetables is a thing of the past. Make your own dressings at home with oil and vinegar and some seasoning, and put that in the lunchbox. Besides being used for the kids’ veggie dip, you can use it on your adult lunch salads.

Leave a Note
Write on the brown bag or leave “XOXO, Mom” on the napkin inside. Leaving words of love and encouragement to be found during the day is a great way to let your loved ones know you are always thinking about them. Consider it a brown bag text message.

Hopefully, these tips will keep you and your family happy and healthy this school season!

No Mayo Tuna Salad Sandwich (Serves 4)
2 (6 ounce) packets of tuna
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 t grated lemon peel
2 t fresh lemon juice
2 T diced red onions
2 T finely chopped Kalamata olives
Fresh ground black pepper
8 slices seven-grain bread
Sliced avocado
Sliced tomato

In a bowl, mix together the tuna, vinegar, oil, lemon juice, onions and olives. Season to taste with salt and pepper (better to refrigerate overnight to let flavors blend). Make sandwiches, layering the tuna salad on 4 slices, followed by avocado and tomato.

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