Foods that hold up well in your child’s summer lunch

WASHINGTON — Whether it’s children at summer camp or a family on a long hike — you don’t need a refrigerator to pack healthy lunches.

“You’ve got to go beyond the sandwich, it’s all about getting creative when it comes to lunches that can be kept for a safe amount of time and are still good for you and offer some flavor and excitement,” Emily Craft, a registered dietitian and nutritionist with Giant Food said.

Craft recommends these warm-weather lunch ingredients.

Nut butters: In addition to peanut butter that comes pre-portioned, there’s almond, cashew and sunflower butters. “Protein sources that are tasty but not going to perish in hot weather,” Craft said. She recommends pairing them with whole wheat crackers.

Jerky: Craft recommended turkey, chicken and salmon jerky, as well. “Those are all better-for-you choices than traditional beef jerky,” Craft said.

Fruits and vegetables: Apples, oranges and pears come in their own wrappers and can easily handle a warm lunch box, in addition to having high water content, Craft said. “You are getting hydrated without having to force down tons of water,” she said. “You want to drink your water, but you can eat your water too,”

Dried chickpea snacks: “They come in a variety of flavors, offer tons of nutrients, protein and fiber and give you that little, salty crunch that you need. And, are very easily kept in lunches,” Craft said.

“Kids love crunch in their lunch,” Craft said. In addition, she recommends granola bars that don’t have too much sugar, but include plenty of filling grains.

Craft said parents also might explore bento boxes that have numbers of compartments for a different way to pack a child’s lunch.

“It allows you to be creative to go beyond the sandwich,” Craft said.

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