Busy moms everywhere are always looking for quick ways to feed the kids that both healthy and convenient. Sometimes it is really hard to get both qualities when searching for portable meals for the kiddos. One of the most popular portable meals to come along in the last decade have been Lunchables and other boxed mini meals that have a little meat, cheese, crackers, sweet snack and sometimes even a drink.
While they are packaged attractively, convenient and reasonably priced, they are also full of processed food that might not be exactly the healthiest version of these foods. You can put together your own lunchables with very little effort, and in the long run, your homemade version will be healthier and will save you money!
- Containers: For under $15 you can purchase a set of four bento lunch containers with either three or four compartments. These will last a while and whether you have one kid or three, you can easily get enough to last the week and pre-prep their lunches with no problems. You are also having a positive impact on the environment by using reusable containers instead of throwing away the plastic packaging of a commercial lunch.
- Meat: Make enough meat to pre-pack the meals for the week. Buy a three pound bag of frozen chicken tenderloins. Roast them all at once. You don’t even have to defrost them. Either buy a roasting bag with seasonings or place them in a 9 x 13” baking dish with your own seasonings. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. After they cool, cut each tenderloin into two pieces and use three pieces for each lunch.
- Cheese: By making your own lunchables, you can choose the type of cheese your child likes. This gives you the option of choosing healthier versions of cheese that are made with 2% milk instead of whole milk. You even have the option of cottage cheese if your child likes it. At any rate, the cheese you buy will be better than the highly processed and full of preservatives cheese found in commercial type lunchables.
- Crackers: Add a few whole wheat crackers or cut up some whole wheat pita or tortillas to add to the bento box container to complete the meal. Your child can eat each item separately or make mini-sandwiches with their container contents.
- Fruit: Each day add fruit to the pre-prepared lunches so that it will stay fresh. Cut up some apples or add some grapes. Cantaloupes and other melons are also a favorite. You get to control what sweet goes into the box, so you can choose fruit instead of chocolate or some other candy.
- Drink: Finally, you can add a bottled water, juice box or flavored milk to round out your homemade lunchable with a drink.
Put together your own lunchable and you will enjoy the same daily convenience in a much healthier version. Homemade lunches have much less sodium, sugar and preservatives than the ones you buy already packaged.