our everyday life

Homemade Brown Bag Lunch Menu

by Jill Corleone, RDN, LD

If your kids come home with more than half their lunch uneaten or you've been hearing through the grapevine that your kid has been trading his lunch meal with his classmates, it might be time for you to change things up a bit. Sure, brown bagging it has some limitations, but there are a number of options you can pack for your kids to keep them eating it.

Sandwiches

Sandwiches make an easy main meal option for your kids. But it doesn't have to be just a couple of pieces of meat between some bread; switch it up a bit. Instead of sliced bread, try a whole wheat pita, bagel or a wrap, and change the fillings to keep them guessing. Try hummus stuffed into a pita, peanut butter and jelly on a whole wheat bagel or tuna salad in a wrap. Use each child's favorite creamy salad dressing instead of mayo for a special surprise. You can also use your cookie cutters to create different shaped sandwiches, making it more fun for your kids to eat.

Sandwich Alternative

You don't always have to bag a sandwich for lunch. Try a nice garden salad topped with some diced chicken for a filling and healthy lunch meal. Or even a pasta salad with some cooked veggies and diced mozzarella cheese tossed in your kid's favorite creamy salad dressing. Leftovers also make an easy brown bag meal. Pack a container with a small portion of meat, starch and vegetables. Cold pizza also makes a fun and easy brown bag lunch option.

Side Dishes

Side dishes help round out the brown bag meal, and keep your kids feeling satisfied for the rest of the day. Fruit makes an easy and healthy choice. Keep it interesting by including a new exotic fruit each week, such as star fruit, dragon fruit or papaya. Crackers, pretzels and rice cakes also make a good side dish choice. Colorful vegetables are fun and healthy. Try grape tomatoes, carrot sticks, sliced peppers or cucumbers. Include a single-serving pack of creamy ranch dressing for dipping. You can also add a container of yogurt or some string cheese to round out the lunch bag.

Dessert

It's okay for kids to have a little sweet treat with lunch, and the brown bag meal is a good time for dessert because, as the packer, you have all the control over the portion size. Talk to your kids, and create a list of fun dessert choices to have throughout the week. Some options might include cookies, fruit snacks, pudding or a few bite-size candy bars.

About the Author

Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.

Photo Credits

  • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images