Take the stress out of lunch packing with these 6 healthy lunch hacks to boost the protein and cut the sugar!
This post is brought to you in partnership with Stonyfield Organic YoKids. Stonyfield recently announced a sugar reduction throughout its portfolio of organic yogurts, starting with YoKids.
Thank you Stonyfield for sponsoring these healthy lunch tips and for reducing the sugar in your yogurts!
1 | Cut Added sugar (when it's not necessary)
Added sugar is everywhere these days, from nut butters, jams, jellys, lunch meats, and even bread.
The best way to spot added sugar is to read the ingredient labels and decide for yourself if it's worth it.
Then make some swaps. Grab a no-sugar added peanut or sunflower butter, swap sweetened turkey for a sugar-free option, and skip the bread with sweeteners added.
By skipping sugar where it's not necessary, you'll be reducing the overall sugar load of lunch, leaving room for little lunchbox treats here and there.
2 | Just Add Yogurt
Yogurt is one of my favorite ways to add protein and gut-boosting probiotics to any lunch.
Certified organic and Non-GMO Project verified, Stonyfield YoKids yogurt is my go-to because it has between 25% to 40% less sugar than leading kids' yogurt.
All the protein with less sugar? Love that!
I'm also a big fan of the fact that YoKids comes in so many options (cups, pouches, tubes, smoothies) too, so it's super convenient to grab and go.
Freezing YoKids pouches or squeezers and then packing them in lunches is also a great way to help keep lunch cool. Bonus: the yogurt is perfectly thawed in time for lunch.
3 | Bump up the Protein
Adding protein to lunch is one of the biggest challenges I hear. These are a few ideas to bump up the protein, with little extra effort.
Turkey or Ham Wraps
Grab your favorite no- or low-sugar lunch meat and use it as a wrap.
Add thinly sliced cheese, cream cheese, thinly sliced carrots or bell pepper, avocado slices, or anything else you like, then roll tightly.
Secure with a toothpick if necessary.
Hard Boiled Eggs
Hard boil a batch of eggs over the weekend, then use them to bump up the protein any day of the week.
I like to include salt on the side for dipping, in order to kick up the flavor.
Or, try mashing the yolks up with hummus or mayo to make a quick deviled egg.
Roasting a can of rinsed, drained and dry chickpeas is an easy way to add delicious plant-based protein to any lunch.
My go to recipe is 5-Ingredient Smokey Maple Roasted Chickpeas. Yum!
Hummus has plenty of protein and is super versatile when it comes to lunch. Spread it in a tortilla with veggies, roll, then slice into bite sized pieces.
Or, try topping a bagel with a dollop, or packing it in a small container with veggies on the side for dipping.
We're partial to this Creamy Pumpkin Hummus. Delicious with the added bonus of veggies. Score!
Nuts, Seeds, and Bites
Nuts, seeds, and homemade energy bites are a another great way to pack in the protein.
Easy Sweet & Spicy Nut and Seed Clusters are a fav around here (skip the nuts and double up on the seeds if you have a zero-nut policy at your school).
One-Bowl Lunchbox Energy Bites are another easy favorite!
4 | Swap in Naturally Sweetened Treats
Making your own muffins + energy bites is a great way to avoid extra refined sweeteners.
5 | Warm it Up
If you're in a sandwich rut, consider sending a protein-packed warm soup, stew or chili in a thermos (check out my favorites in the bonus section, below). Slow Cooker Turmeric Lentil Chili is a fav around here, as is Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Apple Cider Chili.
6 | Let Fruit Shine
Fruit is an easy and nutrition-packed way to add sweetness to lunch without refined sugar.
Whole or cut fruit is a great place to start. Go with what's seasonal, and invite your child to the market to pick his or her favorite.
Then get creative: Add sliced fruit to a wrap or sandwich in place of jam, or make a mini-skewer by threading berries on a toothpick.
Bonus: Pack It Right
Questions about what we use to pack lunches? Here are my answers!
This four section metal bento box is our current favorite for preschool lunches.
We also like the larger version for older children or adults.
These leak proof condiment and dip containers are great for sauces and hummus.
Larger leak proof stainless steel containers for apple sauce, yogurt, and anything else that might leak.
Thermal stainless steel containers keep food warm if your child prefers something heated. Simply fill the container with very hot water, dump the water, then add warmed food, soup or stew and everything should stay warm until lunch.
Pack the items into an insulated lunchbox to keep things cold and reduce the chance of lids coming off.
We love these for younger children as they are durable and can go through the washing machine when spills happen.
We also use this larger size for older children and grownup lunches.
Finally, pop in a small ice pack to keep everything cool until lunch, a few utensils, and you're good to go.
Lunch Packing Cheat Sheet
Download your cheat sheet to inspire and shop for real food lunches!