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February 15, 2013


10 Foods to Pack for an Easy and Healthy Lunch (or Snack)

by Anne Paddock

Packing a healthy lunch for yourself or a child can be challenging at times because it’s hard to provide variety, taste, and wholesomeness day after day. One of the most important tips a friend gave me about packing a lunch is to purchase a lunch or meal transport system that is flexible and made to carry a variety of foods. Laptop lunches ( or Black and Blum ( are two companies that make top-notch lunch boxes and food transport pieces. In addition, I always keep a stock of “jello shot glasses” – small 2 ounce plastic containers (125 for about $10 through with a plastic lid that snaps on and stays on. Once you have the proper tools, packing a lunch or a snack on the go is infinitely easier.

The following foods are excellent choices for a lunch or meal on the go:

DSC_0014Wild Garden Hummus Dip:  The Traditional Hummus Dip contains chick peas, sesame paste (tahini), water, sea salt, natural spices and citric acid. A mild and creamy dip that tastes delicious (with no garlic or onions), Wild Garden Hummus Dip is also nutritious with only 63 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 6 grams of protein. The dip is very easy to spread on pita, rice cakes, multigrain chips, or chopped vegetables. Five single serve packets come in each box. 2 boxes (10 single serving packets) are about $8 and 6 boxes (containing 30 single serving packets) are about $24 plus shipping from

canstockphoto1551671A Healthier Chip: Make your own baked pita chips from leftover pita bread and place in a sealable plastic bag or purchase one of the several healthy chip choices:  Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Chips, Popcorners, and Stacey’s Simply Naked Pita Chips.

  • Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Chips: These chips contain stone ground corn, sunflower oil and /or safflower oil and/or canola oil, brown rice flour, flax seeds, evaporated cane juice, oat fiber, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, quinoa, soy flour and sea salt. Their name says it all – these chips are really delicious and taste great plain or with hummus. Each 1.5 ounce bag (15 chips) contains 210 calories, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of protein, and 9 grams of fat. 24 1.5-ounce bags can be purchased for about $29 from
  • Popcorners: Popcorners are popped corn chips and are referred to as “the new shape of popcorn.” The chips contain yellow corn, sunflower oil, and sea salt. Light, crispy and tasty, these chips provide a low-fat alternative (3.5 grams per 1.1 ounce serving) and have 140 calories, 3 grams of protein, and no sugar.
  • Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips:  Made with enriched wheat flour, sunflower oil and/or canola oil, sea salt, whole wheat flour and less than 2% of the following: organic cane sugar, oat fiber, yeast, malted barley flour, rosemary extract, and ascorbic acid, these pita chips are baked to perfection. Each 1 ounce bag contains 130 calories, 5 grams of fat, 3 grams of protein and 1 gram of dietary fiber. There is less than 1 gram of sugar per serving. 48 1-ounce bags can be purchased for $25 from Amazon, with shipping included. Delicious plain or with hummus.

canstockphoto5588765Fruit and Vegetables:  The choices are endless so alternate days with an apple, clementine, seedless grapes, mixed chopped fruit, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, plums, pears, melon, kiwi (easy to cut in half and eat with a spoon), carrot sticks, celery sticks, sliced cucumbers, corn, peas, or sweet grape tomatoes.

canstockphoto5885818Nuts: Nuts – walnuts, pecans, almonds, macadamia nuts, peanuts, cashews, and more – are a nutritious and delicious snack but portion size is always a challenge. Fill a 2-ounce “jello shot glass” plastic container with your choice of nuts and then secure with the snap-on lid. Another option is to purchase ready-made single serving packets. Emerald makes very handy 100 calorie packets with raw almonds, roasted almonds, and combo packets of almonds and walnuts. Each box contains 7 individual 0.56 ounce packets and sells for about $3.50 at most grocery stores.. Twelve boxes (84 single serve packets) can be purchased from for about $35, shipping included for Amazon Prime members.

canstockphoto5926827Rice Cakes: There are a multitude of rice cakes on the market. Lundberg makes a delicious and nutritious brown rice cake without added salt. The only ingredient is whole grain brown rice. Perfect to spread peanut butter, almond butter, hummus, or the topping of your choice, brown rice cakes are crunchy and satisfying. Widely available at most grocery stores, the cakes can also be purchased by the case through (twelve 8.5 ounce bags with 13 rice cakes in each bag or 156 rice cakes) for about $39, shipping included (for Amazon Prime members). Each rice cake has 60 calories with 1 gram of dietary fiber and 1 gram of protein. With virtually no fat (0.5 grams) and no sugar, these rice cakes have a truly exceptional taste.

DSC_0051Morning Sunshine Breakfast Cookie: This “cookie” comes in three varieties: original, dark chocolate flax, and gluten-free (and vegan) with an impressive ingredient list. The original version (my favorite) contains organic rolled oats, barley flour, wheat bran, egg whites, agave nectar, barley malt syrup, whole wheat flour, sesame seeds, almonds, dried cranberries, and sunflower seeds while the gluten-free version contains rolled oats, hi-protein defatted peanut flour, organic agave, white rice flour, brown rice flour, xantham, baking powder, almonds, sesame seeds, organic dark chocolate, organic dried cranberries, canola oil, and sunflower seeds. Each cookie contains approximately 300 calories, 9 grams of dietary fiber,  and about 12 grams of protein with 4-6 grams of sugar. The cookies are delicious and are very filling and nutritious. A dozen individually sealed cookies can be ordered directly from the company for $24 – $33 ($2 – $2.75 each) plus shipping.

Soup/Whole Wheat Pasta Dish/Bean or Vegetable Toss: I typically cook 5-6 major dishes a week that include at least one soup (split pea, black bean,vegetable, lentil, mushroom barley), a whole wheat pasta dish with vegetables and/or beans, and a vegetable entrée (i.e. spaghetti squash with roasted vegetables) so my daughter packs the leftovers in one of her specialty food carriers to have for lunch at school.

DSC_0055Kind Bars: Kind bars are all natural fruit and nut bars made with simple wholesome ingredients including a variety of  nuts (walnuts, pecans, macadamia, almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts), dried fruits (dates, apricots, raisins, cranberries), coconut, honey chicory fiber, puffed rice, and flax seeds. Each individually wrapped mini bar  (Almond and Coconut, Fruit and Nut Delight, Nut Delight, and Cranberry Almond and Antioxidants) weighs just less than an ounce (0.8 ounce or 120 grams),  is in the 100 calorie range, and has about 3 grams of protein. Delicious, crunchy and chewy at the same time, these mini bars are just the right size for a snack or dessert. The bars can be purchased in most fine grocery stores or directly from the company ( or through Amazon where the minis come in a variety pack (12 bars – 3 of each flavor) for about $12, including shipping (for Amazon Prime members).

DSC_0054Peanut or Almond Butter: It’s hard to beat the fresh taste of finely ground peanuts or almonds. Fresh peanut or almond butter can be purchased at most Whole Food and natural food grocery stores. I buy these spreads in a large container and then put a small portion in a “jello shot glass” (purchased from Amazon) that holds approximately 2 ounces. After snapping the lid on, it’s ready to go.

DSC_0012Mini Dark Chocolate Bar: Many companies make a small version of a dark chocolate bar and the single serve individually wrapped sized bars are the perfect after lunch treat. Abe’s Market sells a box of sixty individually wrapped 0.35 ounce 72% dark chocolate bars by NibMor for $35 (but periodically go on sale for 20% off with free shipping for all orders of $49 and over). Each small bar contains 50 calories with 4 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein and 3 grams of sugar. Green & Black sells small individually wrapped 1.2 ounce 70% dark chocolate bars that are pure decadence. Each bar has 210 calories with 15 grams of fat, 3 grams of protein and 9 grams of sugar. These bars are sold at Whole Foods and most fine grocery stores for about $1.39 per bar. Righteously Raw also makes a mini raw 83% dark chocolate bar that is deliciously satisfying.  For a wide selection of mini chocolate bars, go to or Abe’s Market or

  1. Mar 3 2013’s a constant challenge!

  2. Genny Reynolds
    Mar 3 2013

    Excellent ideas for lunchpacking! I also think variety is the key to making choosy lunchers happy.

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