This post is sponsored by GIANT Food Stores.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year….
Parents across America are humming this tune as they load up their carts with back to school supplies. One of the most coveted school supplies in my house is the lunch box. My kids agonize over which one to choose, and I agonize over what I’m going to put inside.
I fear when I’m not present (in the cafeteria), and their packed lunch is less than attractive, it will also end up in the trash, and not their bellies. How can I pack a lunch for my kids that is nutritious, appealing, and anything but boring?
Recently, I had my question answered when GIANT Food Stores invited me and my daughters to meet with the in-store nutritionist, Madelyn, at their Camp Hill, PA store.
Madelyn started the consultation asking my kids about their interests and activities. She also asked them what their favorite foods are and what kinds of things they would like to see in their lunch. She explained how important protein and a well-rounded lunch is for everyone, including growing and active children.
After getting to know my kids, she took us on a tour of the store. We discussed ways to make the main course interesting with some new ideas that I listed below. She also showed us lots of product ideas that will not only nourish my kids, but are foods that they were excited to try, like roasted garbanzo beans, sunflower seed crunchy bites, and snack sized packages of guacamole, salsa, and almonds.
We ended the tour with a few samples of some of the new products GIANT is offering this year.
I highly recommend this service. Giant is committed to providing health and wellness resources to help their customers eat well, and they have eight in-store nutritionists in stores across PA. Each nutritionist is available to assist customers with questions on healthy eating while they shop, provide one-on-one nutrition consultations, and teach health-related classes.
This service costs $20 for a one hour session with a nutritionist, BUT your fee is refunded in the form of a Giant gift card at the completion of the appointment, essentially making it FREE.
That’s quite a value. And this service is for people of all ages, not just students. People concerned with heart health, diabetes, weight management, fitness nutrition, food allergies & intolerances, and other special dietary concerns would certainly benefit from meeting with one of GIANT’s nutritionists..
In fact, it would have been really helpful 11 years ago when my nursing infant was diagnosed with a food allergy. As someone who does not suffer from food allergies, I was overwhelmed that I was going to have to change MY diet since she was nursing at the time of the diagnosis. While the internet is a wealth of information, it would have been nice to actually talk to a real person, especially a trained professional, about overhauling my diet.
Healthy Lunchbox tips from a Nutritionist
Building a healthy lunch isn’t rocket science, but there are 4 important components to a well-balanced lunch. Kids will get bored with the same sandwich, chips, and apple that is typically seen in lunch boxes across the U.S., so add some variety and make lunch interesting with these ideas.
Whole Grains + Protein
Your main dish should include whole grains and protein. Some good choices could be:
- Turkey & Cheese “Sushi” Sandwich – Madelyn sent me this recipe after my kids told her about their love of sushi.
- Chicken Vegetable Soup and crackers
- protein muffins, such as Egg & Ham Breakfast Muffins
- Homemade Uncrustables – Does the crust freak your kids out? Here’s a solution from 100 Days of Real Food.
- Taco Pop Tarts – Love this idea! I have turkey & black bean taco meat in my freezer, so I’m going to try this recipe.
- Make your own “lunchable” using the Glad bento containers. Fill with crackers, meat & cheese, or homemade chicken salad.
- whole grain sandwich with deli meat
- pasta salad loaded with vegetables, diced ham, and feta cheese.
- cheese quesadillas
Include: 1 vegetable + 1 fruit
The lunch should include at least one vegetable. Some ideas include: carrots, celery, cucumber, mini sweet peppers, sugar snap peas, beet chips, salad, or kale chips. Add some low fat ranch to make the vegetables more enticing.
Also, include 1 fruit. Some good options are bananas, grapes, berries, clementine, applesauce, dried fruit, avocado, melon, or pineapple.
Finally, add 1 fun, yet healthy item
Choose from pretzels, trail mix, nuts, string cheese, snack sized guacamole and/or salsa, yogurt, 100% fruit juice, lowfat milk, fruit leather, and granola bar.
Meeting with Madelyn gave me and my daughters some new ideas to start the school year on the right foot. They’re looking forward to packing their new lunch bags and I’m confident they’ll eat their lunch and be focused for the rest of their school day.
What do you pack in your kids lunch box? Let us know in the comments.
For more information about this service, visit GIANT Food Stores.
For more healthy lunchbox ideas, follow me on Pinterest where I share my daily finds and ideas.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Giant Food Stores. I was provided compensation and a complimentary consultation with the nutritionist, but all opinions are my own. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe my readers will enjoy. You can read the site’s full disclosure here.