Healthy Eating

Refrigerator Lunch Junk

November 13, 2016

I saw a post on Facebook earlier this week about a mom who was proud to have prepacked her child’s lunch for a full month by hanging a shoe organizer on the inside of her refrigerator door and filling each pocket with lunch items to give her child 30 days of “grab and go” lunches.  I love this idea – it’s easy, convenient, and saves time.  However, in the picture that I saw, each pocket was loaded with highly processed and sugar laden foods.  Things like cans of soda, Doritos, cupcakes, snack cakes, chips, cookies, etc.  All of this processed and unnatural food made me cringe (and I mean it REALLY upset me)! As a mom and health advocate, I just wanted to cry.  I wanted to cry for the mom, for the child, and for the family – because they just don’t know how to fuel their bodies with wholesome foods or how to end a cycle of unhealthy food addictions that can lead to obesity and other chronic diseases.  So, what’s a parent to do? Here are some FRESH tips that can be pre-packed into refrigerator door pockets a week at a time…

Make It

Studies show that empowering kids with options will help them to make healthier choices for themselves.  We’ve put together a list of ideas that can help direct your child to make delicious and nutritious lunches that are fast and easy…

  • Make five whole grain turkey, ham, or roast beef sandwiches on Sunday night and freeze them. Simply pack one each day for lunch. Done!
  • Wrap it! Spread cream cheese on a whole grain wrap and stuff it with your child’s favorite meats, veggies, cheese and shredded lettuce. Roll, wrap, and pack.
  • Separately pack whole lettuce leaves with your child’s choice of egg salad, tuna salad, or quinoa salad. They can simply fill, roll and eat at lunchtime.
  • Whole grain tortilla chips and homemade bean/salsa dip takes less than 1 minute to make and tastes great.
  • You can never go wrong with PB&J on whole grain bread. Consider using all-natural peanut butter and all natural preserves (no added sugar to either product).  Cut into fun shapes using cookie cutters and pack with carrots or celery sticks on the side.
  • Whole grain or gluten free pasta salad made with fresh cut veggies and natural olive oil or Italian dressing makes a great alternative to a boring every day sandwich.
  • Broccoli salad, spinach salad, chopped veggies, or mixed greens topped with cheese, preservative-free meats, and cherry tomatoes can be tasty and quick. Remember to pack dressing on the side.
  • Make it Souper! Pack tomato, chicken noodle, or vegetable soup in an insulated container with a side of whole grain crackers and fruit.

Always pack two. Either two fruits, two veggies, or one of each. Let your child choose which two.

Bottled water is the healthiest accompaniment to any meal.  Resist packing sugar-filled drinks like milk, chocolate milk, juice and soda.

Bento It

Bento is an ancient Japanese style of eating that can be traced back to the 8th century when servants, farmers, and soldiers would pack portable light foods and snacks into compartmentalized wooden boxes.  Today’s Bento style of eating is a fun way to pack a variety of fresh foods into neatly organized containers.

Teach It

I’m absolutely convinced that kids learn by doing, and that is I why I have trained hundreds of instructors across the country to teach kids about nutrition and healthy meal preparation through classes, camps, and birthday parties.  Healthy Hands Cooking’s students are empowered with hands-on participation and group learning for kids ranging in ages from 2 to 14+.

One area we focus on is teaching kids how to make their own healthy lunches for themselves, in partnership with – a specialty lunch box company that provides the tool for HHC’s Healthy Bento Lunch Cooking classes.

“That’s Amore” is one of 12 healthy Bento lunch cooking classes that is offered in partnership between Healthy Hands Cooking and   In this Italian inspired class, HHC students will learn to make whole grain pizza spiral sandwiches (with spinach and pizza dipping sauce), Caesar salad, and a variety of fresh sides that the kids will prepare and chop themselves such as cherry tomatoes, olives, sliced cucumbers, sweet peppers, cheese cubes, grapes, and more.

The key for getting kids to eat healthier is empowering them with healthy choices to start with.  Healthy Hands Cooking classes are a fun and interactive way of teaching kids to do just that.

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Jan Pinnington

Jan Pinnington is the founder of Healthy Hands Cooking.