Well, here we go, speeding toward a new school year yet again!
Even with the federally-mandated changes to the school menu, many of us will still find ourselves packing lunches.
Actually, I don’t mind packing lunches, but there are times when I run out of creative ideas or time to make sure a healthy snack hits the lunch bag. When time is short, I rely on convenient, packaged foods, and here are a couple things I recently noted in the store that might be helpful to keep on hand during those rushed lunch packs that occur mid-to-late week.
Apple Dippers: These are your standard sliced apples paired with a small (very small) portion of dip. Flavors of dips are chocolate, yogurt, peanut butter and caramel. All the dips are fairly low in fat and the small portion also keeps it in check. Great grab-and-go items with a touch of fun.
Ocean Spray Craisin 100 Calorie Packs: These are also great grab-and-go snacks with minimal added sugar. Yes, they are higher in cost than a large bag, which of course, the kids or adults can easily repackage. But I am pointing out convenience here.
Dole Real Fruit Bites: These do have some added fat and sugar due to the yogurt coating, and while I think they are fine as a snack, I don’t think I would go as far as to count them as a fruit. Consider these more of a treat-type snack versus a fruit.
Larabar Uber bar: These are fruit and nut bars. The ingredients are straight forward. For example, the Banana Fosters flavored bar has these ingredients: walnuts, almonds, brown rice syrup, dates, dried bananas, pecans, honey, sea salt and cinnamon. These bars are about 200 or so calories and have a lot of fat (albeit healthy fat from nuts). I would consider this an “activity snack." Meaning, this is a grab-it-before-practice-or-a-game-because-you-are-not-going-to-get-to-eat-dinner-for-a-while snack.
Moving on from lunch box toss-ins to breakfast, I am delighted to see a waffle made with whole grains -- and the first ingredient is actually whole wheat! GO Van’s.
Van’s Whole Grain Waffles: They have 6 grams of fiber (3 more than the next leading brand of “made with whole grain” waffles). Top these with some berries and yogurt or a touch of maple syrup, and you have a pretty good start to the day!
Now that we have touched on snacks, lunch and breakfast, we come to dinner, which can be a crazy time of the evening.
Kraft Sizzling Salads: This, I think, is a clever marketing technique. It gives you your dressing and marinade/cooking sauce in one place. I think it is great marketing because it gives the impression of easy, when, in reality, we can all buy marinade/sauce and salad dressing at the store and have been able to do just that for years. So this is not “new,” but it is new and intriguing packaging and for some reason I think it works. Is it healthy? Well, that depends on how you look at it. In simple terms, I’ll go with yes (except for sodium levels).
Grilled or pan sautéed chicken and a salad is a great dinner meal. The marinade and salad dressing are both fairly high in preservatives (as are many other dressings and marinades). This would be the part that makes them less healthy in a more detailed or specific way. The dressing is a lower fat variety. The Southwest chicken kit is the lowest in sodium, so go with that flavor if you wish to give these a try. Want to avoid preservatives? Choose your own marinades/sauce and dressing combinations at the store or make your own.
Here are a couple quick Eating Well with Kim Recipes for hurried weeknights: