Healthy Packed Lunches

I have a reputation.  I’m a picnic packer.

I pack our dinners and/or lunches for soccer games.  The other parents on the team have noticed that we often have food on the field.

There are a few reasons for this.  First, I don’t like to eat late meals.  And soccer games are almost always around meal times.  (If you’ve ever been around me in person, you know I eat all the time.)

Second, I’m cheap.  I don’t like paying money for fast food that often isn’t very good.  A lot of the time, after eating a fast food meal I think that a peanut butter sandwich would have been better.  (Not to let you think I’m a food snob – I love a hamburger and fries from a certain famous American icon every once in a while!)

Since we homeschool, we don’t have to pack lunches very often for school days, but soccer season meals tests our creativity in packing food.  This season, we’ve packed a lot of sandwiches.  And I’ve noticed that there’s one thing that keeps the sandwich meal from being too boring to face.

The secret is fresh fruits and veggies.  A ripe nectarine, grapes or carrots with Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing bump up the taste and healthiness of a packed meal.

Childhood Nutrition Day was earlier this week and the makers of Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® dressings & dips are partnering to host the second year of Lunch Break for Kids.  Lunch Break for Kids is a national fundraiser highlighting ways for parents and kids to partner with chefs and schools to focus on healthy eating.  You can find out more at and find out if they have any events planned in your area.

How does this meal packing business qualify as a short cut?  Even though it does take a couple minutes to throw a sandwich in a baggie and toss in some fresh fruit and veggies, I would venture to guess that it saves time in the long run.  When the game is over, you’re on the way home to get kids settled for the night instead of still trying to find dinner and eat it.  Not to mention that you easily saved $20 or more by avoiding the fast food place with a carload of hungry kids.

What are your kids favorite things to have packed in their lunches?

The Hidden Valley® Original Ranch®, dressings & dips has provided me with free product to help with my review, but anything I receive from Hidden Valley does not affect my thoughts on its company or their product.

Disclosure: I’ve been provided product for sampling and a stipend for my time, but all opinions are my own.

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  1. Mini pumpkin muffins!!
    1 box yellow cake mix
    1 15 oz can of pumpkin
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp nutmeg
    1/4 tsp cloves

    Combine and bake at 350 for 11-12 minutes. Makes approximately 28 mini muffins. For 12-15 regular muffins bake for 18 minutes.

  2. Here, Here to lunch packers! I’m a working mom that made a committment this year to do hot breakfast and a packed lunch for my kids. As an RN, childhood obesity is a huge concern and when school lunches were running $120/mo for my three children I had several reasons to make a change. I spent a little extra and bough “Pack-It” lunch boxes for the kids. They are lined with freezer paks and keep drinks cold and yogurt from going runny. It means I stay up a little later or wake up a little earlier, but at the end of the first term everyone is happy to be saved from breaded mystery-meat:)

  3. Could NOT agree more! I hate doing the concession stand thing for the same reason. We often packs snacks and/or meals for the sports seasons. It just doesn’t make sense to me. My kids enjoy and occ treat, but overall are happy enough to eat the food I bring.

  4. My kids love when I pack “picnic lunches” for school. I pack mini pepperoni, cubed cheese, some sort of cracker or pretzel in silicone muffin cups inside a plastic container. Add in some fruit and yogurt, and they are set 🙂

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