By Sarah Ransom

Eating healthy is often associated with the false mindset that it’s harder than the other options, and often more expensive. Change For Life, an initiative by the Department of Health in the UK, states that one of the myths people believe is that healthy foods are more expensive. The researchers say that “Loads of people think this is true, but it’s actually more likely you will find a lot of cheap healthy meal ideas that help save you money” (Mythbuster, n.d.). Below are just a few ways to pack great, well-rounded lunches for youth to take with them.

Fruits and Veggies please
Having half the lunch including a variety of fruits and vegetables is a great way to get fiber, minerals and vitamins needed to function well. There are all sorts of ways to try fruits and vegetables – fresh, dried, in yogurts, smoothies, granola and many more. Try homemade chips made from kale, eggplant, potatoes or squashes for a healthier alternative to store-bought brands. Making these at home is a great way to save some money also.

Do Extra – when washing, cutting and preparing healthy foods, make just a little extra so you can save time later. Everyone eats healthier when it’s easy to access, make fruits and veggies or healthy grains easy to snack on and eat for meals. This will also save you time in the kitchen (Prepare Healthy meals, n.d.)

Whole grains are easy
it’s simple to add whole grains in lunchboxes! Throw in some whole grain crackers (*Tip…there are lots of flavor varieties), add homemade granola or trail mix, whole grain crust for pizzas and use whole grain breads for sandwiches. These are some really simple ways to make meals healthier without varying the cost of groceries.

Healthy Dessert
While sugary foods aren’t good to consume in mass, they can be enjoyed as a special treat. One easy way to have something special but keep it healthy is making a fruit and yogurt parfait, homemade fruit leather, fresh berries and oatmeal raisin (or cranberry) cookies! According to the Whole Kids Foundation, t’s all about making gradual transitions for the kids (Eat A Rainbow, 2013). To still have something sweet with their fruits, making bite-sized caramel apples or putting fresh fruits in jello are great ways to include fruits with sugary foods they already love!

On the road?
Keeping a bag of trail-mix, carrot sticks, apples to munch or pretzels in the car is a great way to fuel your body while having something healthy to curb hunger.

There are many resources with ideas for simplistic lunches that not only taste good, are good for the budget and easy to transport, but they provide the nutrients that are needing to have energy throughout the day, good memory and building bones and muscles.

Resources:
Eat A Rainbow. (2013, January 1). Retrieved December 2, 2014, from wholekidsfoundation.org

Mythbuster – the facts about healthy eating and exercise. (n.d.). Retrieved December 2, 2014, from.nhs.uk/change4life/Pages/food-exercise-mythbuster.aspx

Prepare Healthy Meals. (n.d.). Retrieved December 2, 2014, fromchoosemyplate.gov/budget/timesavers.html