10 Healthy Brown Bag Lunches

Be a healthy hero: Pack a daily lunch for yourself and your children. Not only will you give your diet a big nutrition boost, you’ll save money too. We’ve got ten expert-approved, easy-to-pack lunch ideas—five for kids, and five for adults—to get you started. Now get packing!

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1For Kids: Healthy Turkey Sandwich

1. Apple slices with peanut butter
2. Turkey sandwich on whole wheat
3. Dried apricots
4. Unsalted cashews
5. Low-fat milk

The American Dietetic Association has a simple rule for children’s beverages: “Drink milk with meals, and drink water with snacks. That’s three 8-ounce glasses of low-fat milk and two to three glasses of water.”

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2For Kids: Ants On a Log

1. Ants on a log — celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins
2. Low-fat cheese on whole grain crackers
3. Granola
4. Cherry tomatoes with low-fat dressing
5. Low-fat milk

Ants on a log provides kids with protein from peanut butter and nutrients from a vegetable and fruit all in one.

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3For Kids: Spaghetti Surprise

1. Whole wheat spaghetti with tomato sauce
2. Low-fat yogurt
3. Banana
4. Unsalted almonds
5. Low-fat milk

Bananas are packed with potassium, necessary for proper nerve and muscle function and blood pressure regulation.

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4For Kids: Veggie Quesadilla

1. Vegetable and cheese quesadilla on whole wheat tortilla
2. Grapes
3. Pecans
4. Low-fat cottage cheese
5. Low-fat milk

Pecans will give your child a serious vitamin boost, including calcium, vitamins E and A, folic acid, magnesium, copper, potassium, B vitamins and zinc.

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5For Kids: Chicken Burritos

1. Refried bean, grilled chicken and cheese mini burrito on whole grain tortilla
2. Unsweetened applesauce
3. Baby carrots and hummus
4. Low-sodium trail mix
5. Low-fat milk

Hummus is a high-fiber treat made from chickpeas, which Mayo Clinic says helps to regulate blood sugar levels by preventing blood sugar spikes after eating a meal. An added bonus: Fiber can reduce a child’s risk of diabetes and heart disease.

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6For Adults: Grilled Chicken Sandwich

1. Grilled chicken breast and spinach on whole wheat
2. Slices from half an avocado
3. Fat-free Greek yogurt
4. Unsalted almonds
5. Dried cranberries

The American Dietetic Association says the unsaturated fat in avocado benefits adults by lowering cholesterol levels and improving overall cardiovascular health. Be careful you don’t go overboard on “good fat”; stick to half an avocado at lunch.

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7For Adults: Black Bean Burrito

1. Rice and black bean mini burrito on whole grain tortilla
2. Broccoli flowerets with fat-free cream cheese
3. Pumpkin seeds
4. Peach

Black beans pack a big protein-fiber punch. Just one cup of these magic beans provides you with 15 grams of fiber and 15 grams of protein. To put it in perspective, an adult who consumes a 2,000 calorie diet should eat 25 grams of fiber and 50 grams of protein daily, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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8For Adults: Protein-Packed Surprise

1. Hard-boiled egg
2. Apple slices
3. Pistachios
4. Edamame salad
5. Whole grain bagel with low-fat vegetable spread

Kirkpatrick says nuts are a great mid-day snack that will fill you up and help prevent heart attack and stroke. Pistachios, in particular, have super powers. They’re one of the most nutrient-dense nuts filled with fiber, protein and a host of antioxidants.

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9For Adults: Hummus Pita

1. Whole grain pita bread with hummus
2. Spinach salad with tomato and olive oil-based dressing
3. Low-fat cottage cheese
4. Blueberries
5. Walnuts

If you crave sweetened beverages in the middle of the day, try flavored, unsweetened sparkling water, unsweetened iced tea with lemon, and hot tea with honey to satisfy your jones. Research suggests women who consume honey may experience a reduced glycemic response compared to women who eat sugar.

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10For Adults: Tuna Salad Sandwich

1. Tuna salad on whole wheat
2. Bell peppers with fat-free dressing
3. Macadamia nuts
4. Grapefruit

The American Dietetic Association says omega-3 fatty acids, a type of unsaturated fat, found in tuna and other fish help lower your risk of sudden death from heart attacks.

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