As an alternative to sandwiches or salads, or as accompanying side items, here are some additional wholesome, lunch bag-friendly options. Keep the three basic building blocks (smart proteins, fiber-rich carbs, and a calcium rich food) in mind to put together a winning a la carte lunch.
-Finger-friendly or cut up fresh fruit—fresh strawberries or blackberries, grapes, cherries, bananas, apples, pears, peaches, plums, melon, kiwi, mango, oranges, or tangelos
-Individual containers of unsweetened applesauce or diced fruit in 100% juice
-Finger-friendly or cut-up fresh veggies—cherry or grape tomatoes, celery sticks, “baby” carrots, broccoli florets, sweet bell pepper strips, canned artichoke hearts, sugar snap peas, shelled fresh edamame
-100 percent whole-grain crackers, tortilla chips, or brown rice cakes
-Individual containers of healthy dips—hummus, salsa, peanut butter, low-fat ranch, guacamole, or yogurt-based veggie dips
-Individual containers of low-fat or non-fat yogurt. If not using plain that you have sweetened yourself, look for those with the least added sugar—typically honey or vanilla varieties. Avoid flavored yogurts marketed to kids as they have the most added sugar.
-Individual containers of low-fat cottage cheese
-Any variety of nuts or seeds
-Cheese sticks or cheese cubes
-Dried fruit—raisins, apricots, apples, etc.
-Boiled, omega-3 eggs
-Dried edamame/roasted soy nuts or dried chickpeas
-Finger-friendly dried cereal—Quaker Oat Squares, Wheat Chex, Cheerios
-Healthy dinner leftovers
-Healthy “treats” – dark chocolate baking chips or individually wrapped dark chocolate pieces, dark chocolate covered nuts, granola bar