A great way to help kids get involved and learn healthy lifestyles and diets is to have them pack their lunches. This also is a great help in taking something off a parent’s never ending to-do lists. Another tip to help that morning rush would be to have them pack their lunches the night before. Dina Garcia, RD, LDN of Vida Nutrition shares these healthy, easy and fun lunch options that kids can pack themselves.
Dina Garcia, RD, LDN
Vida Nutrition
11098 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 410-30
Miami, FL 33161
786) 479-4081

Based in Miami, Garcia is a licensed dietitian-nutritionist and mindful eating coach. After losing weight and reversing her own pre-diabetes, she became “dedicated to liberating people form dieting by offering them practical solutions to eating healthy, moving more and loving themselves.” She currently owns her own private practice, Vida Nutrition LLC, which she founded in 2012. Prior to opening Vida she worked as a clinical dietitian for seven years and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics from Ball State University. For more information on Garcia or Vida Nutrition and helpful nutrition tips, be sure to follow her on these social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Below are five inventive and healthy lunch options that are very easy for kids to put together themselves. Garcia shares that, “it is worth noting that each lunch should be accompanied by good ‘ol water!”  She also recommends washing produce with her DIY fruit and veggie wash first. This is simply made of 3/4 cup white distilled vinegar, 1/4 cup water and 1 tbsp lemon juice by mixing all ingredients in a food-safe spray bottle then spray onto food and allow solution to stay on fruit and veggies for 1 to 2 minutes before rinsing off. Her son has even been using this wash and cleaning his own apples since he was three — it’s that easy!

Rock ‘N Roll It Up

Instead of sticking to a boring old sandwich, Dina Garcia shares this great idea and how “kids will also have fun learning how to roll this up into a wrap or roll.” She recommends kids using a “whole grain tortilla wrap with cream cheese or guacamole spread over it, topped with sliced (minimally processed) turkey and/or cheese, then sprinkled with pre-shredded carrots and/or lettuce, then simply roll it up.” The meal can then be completed with a piece of fruit or yogurt. One thing Garcia loves about this particular lunch is, “I like the great balance or protein, fat and fiber a wrap/roll can provide”

Grab ‘N Go

One great and easy option for kids to pack their lunch is Garcia’s Grab ‘N Go. She states, “I love to have grab ‘n go items from all the basic food groups on hand at all times, so I can’t use ‘time’ as an excuse for not being able to pack a healthy lunch. It just doesn’t get any easier.” Some items she shares that great to have the kids pack for this type of lunch and stay healthy are string cheese, hearty whole grain granola bars, bananas with nut butter, and baby cucumbers with ranch dressing.

Breakfast For Lunch

There’s not many people that don’t love breakfast food, which is why breakfast for dinner is such a popular thing, so why not do the same for lunch? Healthy and easy items that kids can pack in their lunches according to Garcia include hard cooked eggs, mini whole wheat bagels with cream cheese and/or peanut butter and cutie oranges. Garcia shares her love of this lunch option for her kids, “My little ones, who are four and six, just get a kick out of eating breakfast for lunch or dinner because to them it’s just fun and silly.”

Related: Ask A South Florida Expert: School Lunches To Prepare In 10 Minutes Or Less

DIY Lunchables

Pre-packaged lunchables have been a long time favorite among kids but they can often be unhealthy and, over time, costly. Garcia adds, “My kids love the ‘real’ lunchables, because it’s fun to stack them up, but me not so much. They contain processed (aka fake) cheese, partially hydrogenated oil (aka transfat, you know the super bad stuff) and highly processed meat and most of them contain a sugary drink and a dessert.” Her alternative is DIY lunchables that include sliced cheese, (minimally processed turkey slices, and 100 percent whole grain crackers) with an apple or baby cucumbers and individual packs of guacamole. “By making your own lunchables you an significantly cut down on food additives, reduce transfat to 0gm (which is what the FDA recommends), increase fiber intake and cut back on sugar intake.”

Bento Box It Up

Garcia points out that “Bento boxes are a great way to make lunch look stylish, are easy and can be a great learning experience.” One great learning opportunity she shares is “challenge your child to fill each compartment of a Bento box with a different food group and to make each food a different color.” Some examples of items she provides are cottage cheese, beans, grape tomatoes, pre-sliced celery, blueberries and mixed nuts.

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Suzy Fielders is a working mom of a spirited 9 year old daughter. She has an MA in Communication Studies and BA in Psychology and Communications. She works in marketing/public relations, is a freelance writer and is very involved in the Winston-Salem community and arts & films scene.