This post is sponsored by Strong4Life. All opinions expressed here are my own.
Expert Advice: Busy Mom Tips for Packing a Healthy Lunch
Last week my family visited a pumpkin patch, the aquarium, made it out to Chess Club, and our weekly play day on the Atlanta BeltLine. If you hadn’t noticed…….we’re a very busy family! As we’re out and about, and on the go, most days I pack a lunch for myself and the kids. With my sons food sensitives and epilepsy, it’s not always easy to find foods that he can eat while we’re out that won’t trigger a seizure. If you haven’t had a chance to read about my sons epilepsy, last year was very difficult for my family in pinpointing his seizure triggers and what to avoid. For a few months we tried out the Ketogenic Diet with the help of the Keto Clinic over at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. While Keto wasn’t the best fit for him, it did help us to remove certain foods from his diet that can cause him problems. I’m happy to say that now my son is seizure free, healthy, and happy!
Recently we had the opportunity to meet up at Kroger and go on a grocery shopping trip with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Strong4Life’s Registered Dietitian and food expert, Katherine Shary to get some tips on how to pack a healthy lunch for my family that is always on the go! I decided to bring the children along on this grocery shopping trip so that they could ask any questions they had about healthy eating, as well as learn how important it is to make good food choices. Did you know that eating habits are formed in children by age 3 and can follow them through adolescence into adulthood? That’s why it’s so important to establish a strong foundation and preference for healthy eating early on.
Healthy on-the-go Lunch Tips for Busy Moms:
Add a mix of fruits and veggies – While grocery shopping for lunch, I like to grab easy to pack and eat fruits and vegetables like berries and carrots. Ask your children what their favorites are and mix things up!
Be aware of hidden sugars in juice & foods – Due to my sons food sensitivities, I’m a perpetual label reader while grocery shopping. I’m not only looking for chemical additives, but I’m also looking at the sugar content a product contains. Be aware of high sugar content in pre-made smoothies and pre-packaged juices and juice drinks while shopping. Kids have a strong preference for sweet flavor. If they are introduced to added sugars as an infant or toddler, it encourages this sweet tooth. That’s why the American Heart Association last year (2016) issued their first-ever recommendations for limiting added sugar in the diets of children under two and juice should not be introduced to kids younger than one. I choose juice drinks that are watered down, like the Honest brand, and my family knows it’s a special treat. Fruit infused water is always a great alternative to juice, or if you have time you can make your own smoothies.
Make Mini-Meals – Skip the pre-packaged lunches you see in the store and make your own! While shopping we picked up all of the items we need to create a mini grab and go lunch. Lunch meat, crackers, carrots, berries, nuts, and string cheese. Pack it all up in a plastic container the night before, and grab it out of the fridge when ready!
One of my son’s seizure triggers is wheat and gluten, so I’ve removed these from his diet, but he still needs a source of healthy carbs. Katherine provided me with this great list of alternatives:
Healthy carbohydrates that do not contain gluten:
Any type of potato
All fruits and berries
Legumes (beans, lentils, peas)
Rice, buckwheat, millet
Gluten Free Oatmeal
*Even vegetables have a small amount of carbohydrates, but the above foods listed have the same amount of carbohydrates per serving as a slice of bread.
Katherine also gave me this fun homemade tortilla recipe to try out below! You can get your little ones involved in making their own food. I’ve found that when my children are involved in the shopping and cooking process, they are more likely to eat a wide variety of healthy foods.
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1 cup warm water
- **Flour can be substituted with an all purpose gluten free flour if necessary
- In a large bowl combine flour, salt and baking powder.
- Stir in water and oil.
- Turn onto a floured surface; knead 10-12 times, adding a little flour or water if needed to achieve a smooth dough.
- Divide into 16 fairly equal portions and cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
- After rest period, heat a large pan over medium-high heat.
- Roll each dough piece into a rough circle, about 6-7 inches in diameter, keep work surface and rolling pin lightly floured.
- When pan is very hot, place one dough circle into pan and allow to cook about 1 minute or until bottom surface has a few pale brown spots.
- The uncooked surface will begin to show a few little bubbles.
- If tortilla is browning too fast, reduce heat a bit. If it’s taking longer than a minute to see a few pale golden brown spots on underside of tortillas, increase heat a bit.
- Remove from pan with tongs and stack in a covered container or zippered bag till all tortillas are cooked. This will keep them soft and pliable.
- Store in an airtight container or plastic zippered bag at room temperature for 24 hours. Refrigerate for up to 1 week, stored in a zippered bag. Or freeze indefinitely. To freeze, separate tortillas with parchment paper or waxed paper and place in a zippered bag before placing in freezer.
Are you ready to head out to the grocery store to shop for some healthy on the go lunch box items?! I’m excited to be hosting a giveaway for one of my readers to win a $50 Kroger Gift Card!! Simply enter below.
**Winner will be notified by email. Giveaway ends on Monday November 13th.**
Being a parent can get tough! Be sure to check out Strong4Life.com for help & support. Strong4Life offers busy parents like you and me age specific tips on parenting, food, and facts & advice from the experts at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. It’s such a useful resource!