The quick answer: Lunch can be healthy, even if eaten away from home.
Word of Wisdom Living can be achieved through 52 Healthy Changes, one for each week of the year—that’s our premise. The 52 Healthy Changes are based on 13 themes, visited each quarter, of which one is “better meals.” For example:
- With Healthy Change #4 we noted that breakfast was the easiest meal to reform, so a good place to start. Rather than skip breakfast, or dish out heavily marketed cereals that are more like candy in a box, we said: “Eat breakfast; cereal must have more grams of natural fiber than added sugar.” See our 2012 post for some great reader comments.
- Thirteen weeks later Healthy Change #17 addressed the family dinner, a disappearing tradition in America. There was hidden wisdom in the saying, “Eat dinner as a family.” The idea was that if a family would eat together, they were more likely to cook real food rather than serve purchased stuff.
The Good Lunch
So now we come to lunch, timed to coincide with the start of the new school year. I took the faded picture above in Central America, some fifty years ago. We met the young boy walking along the road, taking lunch to his father in the field. The clay pot contained a "sack lunch." I loved his happy and wholesome look, complete with cowboy hat over a home-done haircut. You have to admire his artful pose. The lunch was simple, beans with homemade corn tortillas. Fruit, especially mangos and bananas, grew freely in the area.
Note the homes in the background—traditional bamboo huts with thatched grass roofs—that would trump any modern “green” home contest. Though I likely thought it curiously primitive, today we would admire this boy’s life as “living off the grid.” With all our advantages, we can eat as naturally as the boy in the picture.
So here’s this week’s Healthy Change:
Here’s what we said in our 2011 post on this subject:
Budget wisdom: Here are some affordable ideas for your kid’s lunch “sack”. Consult the kids; involve them in preparation as part of their cooking education:
- Fruits are easy: apple, orange, banana, grapes, dates or dried mangos with nuts, there are lots of choices, you can even make a fruit cup. Fruit can also be added to the low-sugar yogurts.
- Veggies like carrot sticks, celery, or hummus with cucumbers or cherry tomatoes are all good.
- Sandwiches are a little harder but if you use an insulated lunch box with ice packs, there are more choices: PB&J is a classic, or try PB on banana bread. Preserved deli meats have been sandwich favorites but limit use to once a week as suggested in this post. The tuna fish sandwich is another favorite; add lots of chopped celery; the lettuce can keep the bread from getting soggy.
- Try sandwich alternatives, like leftovers from favorite foods. You can also use pita pockets with cheese, or a quesadilla. When winter comes, warm soup in a thermos is comforting.
- Sweets should be a treat, an exception, not a daily expectation. Cookies made from healthy recipes also contain a bit of mom's love.
I especially liked the reader comments from this post, which can be seen here. A favorite idea was lunch in a “bento” box, the little sections can nicely present healthy treats.
Please comment: Share with our readers your best “healthy school lunch” ideas. Sharing makes our Word of Wisdom blog community part of the food reformation.