Whether it’s for work or school, packing a prepared lunch for yourself or your children offers a multitude of health benefits, because you can control your options.
“When we wait until the last minute to make a food choice, we tend to make it with our taste buds rather than with our health in mind,” explained Nicole Moore, a registered dietitian at Augusta University Health. “When you pack your lunch, you can have more control over what you eat, whether you choose foods that are lower in calories or fat, add more fruits and vegetables, or just stick to a healthier diet that you’re trying to follow.”
If you’re finding it difficult to pack something new each day, Moore suggests using a bento-style lunch box. These boxes have containers that help you correctly portion food and assemble a meal that is not only more nutritionally balanced, but also more fun to eat.
“When a lot of people think about packing a lunch, they think of a sandwich, some chips and a drink, and it just feels kind of sad to have to do that every single day,” Moore said. “The bento-style box offers more creativity than the traditional packed lunch, and even though you’re including smaller portions of food, you’re getting quite a bit of variety.”
When packing your bento box, Moore suggests choosing at least three different food groups, including fruits, vegetables and a source of protein.
“Go with color,” she said. “Choose foods in the rainbow so that you’re getting different nutrients.”
To make your bento box lunches even more appealing, use colorful silicone baking cups or dividers to separate wet foods from dry foods, and cookie cutters to cut foods into fun shapes.
- 1 10-inch flour tortilla or sandwich wrap
- 1 cup cooked chicken, chopped or sliced
- 1 small tomato, chopped or sliced
- 1 cup romaine lettuce or spinach, shredded
- ¼ cup low- or non-fat salad dressing (optional)
- 8–12 baby carrots
- ¼ cup grapes or berries
- Layer chicken, tomato and lettuce or spinach on the tortilla within one inch of edges. Drizzle with light salad dressing, if desired.
- Fold opposite sides of tortilla up toward center about one inch over filling (sides will not meet in center); roll up tortilla, beginning at one open end. Cut diagonally in half.
- Place one half of the wrap in the biggest compartment of your bento box. Fill another compartment with carrots, and the other with grapes or berries.