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Five Tips for Packing Healthy Lunches for School and Work

As the schools head back, many parents are unsure what to do about packing lunches. Not only for the kids to take to school but for them to take to work. Most people know they should pack a healthy lunch, but knowing that and pulling it off can sometimes be two very different things. Packing healthy lunches is often easier said than done unless you go into it with a plan.

"Eating healthy on the go starts with planning it out," explains Jennifer Scherer, a registered dietitian nutritionist, medical exercise specialist, certified personal trainer, and owner of Fredericksburg Fitness Studio. “If you know ahead of time, you will make it much easier to ensure everyone is eating healthier at school and work."

It's estimated that the average child will spend nearly 2,200 days at school as they grow up. That's a lot of meals that will be eaten along the way and they will help to create habits that may last a lifetime. Families can make healthier school and work lunches habits with planning and effort.

Healthier lunches start by planning what will be put into the lunch boxes and ensuring those items are purchased on shopping day. If good things are in the home, it is easier to ensure they make their way into the lunch boxes. Families can determine what will be put into the lunches on the weekend and then shop for the items.

Here are 5 additional tips for packing healthy lunches for school and work:

  • Prep ahead of time. Having things ready to go makes it easier to pack a healthy lunch. Set aside time on Sunday evening to prep for the week's lunches, including washing, chopping, and storing any vegetables and fruits used. There are a lot of things that can be prepared ahead of time that will make the packing process more manageable during the week.

  • Keep it simple. Plenty of blogs show extravagant and fancy school and work lunches, and while they look great, they are usually time-consuming to prepare. By sticking with keeping lunches simple, it will seem like a manageable task. Simple meals and snacks can be healthy, tasty, and time-saving.

  • Have a backup. There may be days when you wake up and don't want what you planned for lunch or need a backup plan. Keeping something like peanut butter and jelly can serve that purpose. Opting for peanut butter made from only peanuts and salt, all-natural jam, and whole wheat bread can create a healthy lunch backup.

  • Go non-toxic. Look at the containers being used to pack the lunch in and opt for non-toxic items. Safer lunchbox materials include bamboo, stainless steel, fabric, and silicone. It doesn't make much sense to prepare a healthy lunch only to put it into a toxic bag to take to school or work. Invest in non-toxic containers.

  • Consider safety. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), school and work lunches can become dangerous if not kept at ideal temperatures. In other words, hot food must remain hot, while cold foods must be kept cold. Otherwise, bacteria can quickly multiply and make the person sick when they eat the food. Instead of using a brown bagging lunch for cold items, opt for an insulated lunch bag with a frozen gel pack. Hot foods should be kept in a thermal container that will keep the things at 140 degrees or above.

“It’s okay if you want to add a little treat to the lunch boxes," added Scherer. "Packing healthy isn’t about deprivation; it's about ensuring that most of what will be consumed that day at lunch offers nutritional value. The longer you pack this way, the easier it will become."

Healthy items to consider in lunches for work and school include hummus and veggies, trail mix, fresh fruit, string cheese, hard-boiled eggs, pita bread and hummus, homemade mini muffins, dried fruit, olives, etc. Healthy snacks are also a good idea to include, such as the sprouted nuts and other options offered by Ntidote.

As a registered dietitian, Scherer helps people improve their diet, plan for sustainable weight loss, and help people include healthier food choices. She and her team offer nutrition coaching services, wellness, personal training, in-home medical training, virtual personal training, and a Pilates reformer program, which features a versatile machine designed to provide resistance. It can be used when standing, sitting, or lying down.All workouts on it are custom-tailored for the individual to address their physical fitness concerns.

Fredericksburg Fitness Studio doesn't offer memberships as other gyms do. They offer private customized fitness programs that are available by appointment. Many people who go to the studio are referrals from physical therapists and doctors. The wellness professionals at the studio communicate with the medical teams to keep them up to date on patient progress. To learn more about Fredericksburg Fitness Studio, visit the site:


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