Quick Guide for Healthy Family Lunches

Are you always running around, from driving the kids to sports practice to coming and going from work? Having little time to make lunches for these busy days may make you think you can’t make healthy lunches. But don’t go for the fast food yet – you can make healthy food, fast, right at home without breaking the bank.

Take some suggestions from the family for what to make for lunch, and then make lunches either the night before or the morning of. That way everyone will enjoy their lunch! Get the kids involved with cooking, too. 

To make your lunches both quick and healthy, follow the USDA’s MyPlate guide. Here are the food groups you should include in every balanced lunch:

One portion of whole grains, such as whole wheat bread or pasta.

One portion of vegetables, such as carrots or bell peppers.

  • One 1/2 cup serving of each is about the size of a tennis ball or lightbulb.

One portion of protein, such as chicken or beans.

  • One portion is equal to 1/4 cup, which is about the size of the palm of your hand.

One portion of fruit, such as banana or grapes.

  • One serving is equal to 1/2 cup, so about the same size as a lightbulb.

One portion of dairy, such as cheese or low-fat milk or nut milk.

  • One serving is equal to 1 cup, so about the size of a closed fist.
Quick lunch recipes

Wondering what you could make for lunch that is both quick and follows MyPlate? Here are two examples of a full lunch containing some of our favorite recipes from the Pack-It Cookbook that you could try for a complete, healthy lunch. 

Lunch #1

Grains and Protein: Whole-Wheat Pita Pocket/
Vegetable: 1/2 cup baby carrots
Fruit: 1/2 cup grapes, halved
Dairy: 1 cup soymilk

Lunch #2

Grains and Protein: Turkey Burrito
Vegetable: 1/2 cup cucumber with 1-2 tablespoons of low-fat ranch dressing
Fruit and Dairy: Yogurt Parfait

By Emily Woods

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