Easy, creative ideas for packing summer lunches

Tips for creative summer lunches from Lean Plate Club blogger Sally Squires

WASHINGTON — Parents may not be packing school lunches in the summertime, but that doesn’t mean they’re off the hook.

There are lunches for the pool and camp and summer jobs, and for those long rides in the car while heading on vacation. How can parents make these everyday meals interesting and survive the hot summer temperatures?

Sally Squires, who writes the Lean Plate Club™ blog, offers a few considerations.

No. 1 is to think “shelf-stable.” That means foods that don’t necessary have to be heated or refrigerated before they’re opened.

“So you’re going to want to choose some foods that aren’t going to taste awful if they get somewhat heated just by sitting out,” Squires said.

Lunch is a great time to make sure your kids are getting enough whole grains, Squires said. Sandwiches are a lunch staple, but you could also consider whole-grain crackers or other snack foods, such as whole-grain Goldfish crackers.

Try pairing the crackers with an individual serving container of hummus or guacamole. “They’re “just right for a child,” Squires said. “They won’t eat too much, and you’re not going to have a lot of food waste. So that’s a good thing.”

Don’t be afraid to get creative with wild concoctions such as “ants on a stick”: celery filled with cream cheese topped with raisins or other dried fruit.

“If you get the kids involved, they’re more likely to also eat what you’re offering them,” Squires said.

What about meals on the go while traveling this summer?

Make sure you have plenty of bottled water so everyone stays hydrated, Squires said. Also, consider easy snacks such as granola bars and 100-calorie packs of pretzels and crackers.

“You really want to think kind of sweet and savory and, of course, fresh fruit is always a good thing if you can have it in a place where it’s going to stay somewhat cool.”

Trail mix and different flavors of jerky are also good options.

And don’t forget at least a few sweet treats — such as a single-serving chocolate bar or Fruit Roll-Up — “to make the trip go a little easier,” Squires said.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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