Back to school season means a return to the lunch making grind. Make it less of a chore and less of a bore with these tasty and practical ideas for No-Heat Beef Lunch Box Ideas for Every Age.
Toddler & Preschool Lunch Boxes
- Cut up produce and proteins into age-appropriate sized chunks. Chopped up steak from the previous night’s dinner is a great way use up leftovers and provide protein that tastes good cold.
- For more munching and less waste, include mini-sized snacks like smaller whole grain crackers, pretzels, rice cakes, and quartered bread slices rather than their full-sizes counterparts. These foods also can stand in as “utensils.”
- Encourage fruit and vegetable eating with unusually colored or shaped choices such as purple cauliflower, tri-color carrots, yellow watermelon or spiralized cucumbers.
- When in doubt, add dip. A small container of hummus, low-fat ranch dressing, peanut butter or other kid-friendly condiment ups the fun and flavor factors of your little ones’ lunches.
Elementary & Middle School Lunch Boxes
The sandwich still reigns king for noon-time noshing, especially with older youngsters and tweens who want to fill up the tank while still fitting in with peers. You can’t beat a sandwich for convenient, hand-to-mouth eating with balanced nutrition. Whole-grain slices of bread keep a host of fillings in place including options from protein, diary, veggies and heart-healthy fats.
- Deli meats like roast beef are easy protein picks, but leftovers like shredded beef and steak slices work well too!
- If bread becomes boring, switch up your child’s sandwich with a whole grain bun, tortilla or pita pocket.
- Add extra flavor and boost the feeling of fullness with heart-healthy spreads like hummus, pesto and natural-style nut butters.
- The more veggies packed in a sandwich, the better! Encourage your child to pick at least two vegetables from an assortment that goes beyond basic lettuce and tomato. Try shredded carrots, broccoli slaw, spinach, roasted or pickled vegetables, and sprouts of all sorts.
High School & Adult Lunch Boxes
Fuel the adventure and every day grind of becoming a grown up (or actual adulting) with a balanced yet anything-but-boring lunch box. A no-heat meal for the school courtyard or office breakroom is a welcomed respite and smart way to nourish your body for the remainder of the day while avoiding poor fast food or vending machine choices. You are only limited by personal tastes, dietary restrictions and imagination. Here are some tips to get you started packing the perfect adult lunchbox:
- Choose food high in protein and fiber to create a longer-lasting feeling of fullness that will take you through afternoon classes or meetings.
- Three-ounces of beef is an on-point protein choice for lunch. Use leftovers like steak slices, shredded beef or brisket in your meal or purposefully meal prep and store individual portions in the freezer.
- Add a modest portion of heart healthy fats to your meal such as avocado, olive-oil based dressings, or nuts and seeds.
- If preparing a salad, keep delicate greens and dressing separate until time to eat. This prevents sogginess.
- If you are prone to a sweet tooth, choose smarter options for dessert like fruit, yogurt or even chocolate-covered nuts.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Beef Loving Texans Blog.