If you look at the ingredients of a Lunchable, you will see that NOTHING in the container is nutritionally sound. In fact, eating the cardboard would likely be less offensive to a kid’s digestive system than the food contents. For example, there is a turkey-cheese-cracker combo. Let’s break that down: the turkey is processed, high in sodium, cheese is high fat, calorie rich and the cracker contains partially hydrogenated oils in addition to super refined white grains (good grain stripped of it’s value to be smoother and tastier). Sometimes there is a small candy bar, no comment necessary and a pouch of Hawaiian Punch aka sugar water. Whew! I’m done ranting.
Here is the appeal of a Lunchable to kids, it looks cute. The portions are small and fun for kids to put together and play with. The idea of a Lunchable is similar to an Asian Bento box and you can create some similarly fun boxed lunches but with much more good health inside than the processed junk.
These are some of my favorite ideas:
Sandwiches – Cut the crusts off (save them to make homemade breadcrumbs) and cut the sandwich into quarters. Pampered Chef makes a cute Cut ‘N’ Seal that cuts crust and seals the sandwich all at once. My girls used to love them. (click here for my PC website) Fill sandwiches with some sugar-free jam and a touch of peanut butter or tuna salad. Also use whole wheat mini pitas for petite sandwiches.
Fruit – Cut fruit into small shapes and put them on skewers, reminding your kids that they are not to be used for sword fights when the skewers are empty (use a coffee stirrer if you’re nervous about pointed objects). If your kids like to dip, you can make an awesome fruit dip out of yogurt with a touch of brown sugar. If you need to slice apples in advance, coat them lightly in lemon juice to prevent browning.
Peanut Pasta – This pseudo-Asian snack is fun and easy, slightly dilute some peanut butter with water and mix into spaghetti or angel hair, finish with some sesame seeds and dice in some green/red pepper if you can get away with it.
Veggies -Be creative with colors and shapes. For example, score a cucumber with a fork before slicing and you get a pretty shape around the edges, cut carrots into matchsticks and fill celery with light cream cheese coated with sunflower seeds. Dip is fun here too. If you mix some dry salad dressing mix like Good Seasons or Hidden Valley with yogurt you may even get those health benefits without them catching on that it’s not high-fat Ranch.
If you like these ideas and want more kid-friendly recipes, let me know by sending an email and I’ll send you more (without putting you on a mass mailing email list…I promise.)