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Hy-Vee Dietitian: Healthy Lunch on the Go

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Back-to-school time has many of us thinking about what to pack for lunch. Beat the brown bag monotony with some fresh lunch ideas this year! Mount Vernon Road Hy-Vee dietitian, Kimberly Proctor, has some quick and easy ideas that are sure to please both kids and adults. Follow the instructions below to assemble a balanced midday meal.

Main Dishes: Choose 1 option


Chicken Salad: Combine 3 oz. cooked or canned chicken, small amount of low-fat mayo, halved grapes, 2 Tbsp. pecans, and 2 Tbsp. dried cranberries.

Veggie Lovers: sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, sliced peppers, shredded carrots, low-fat ranch, fresh mozzarella cheese or feta crumbles

Tuna Salad: Combine 1 small pouch of tuna, small amount of low-fat mayo, sliced celery, shredded carrots and 2 Tbsp. sliced almonds.

Sub Sandwich: sliced DiLusso deli meat, tomatoes, lettuce, pickle, onion, provolone cheese, mustard

Try these bread options: whole wheat bread, whole wheat pita pocket, whole grain crackers, rice cakes, whole wheat mini bagels, or whole wheat sandwich thins.


Banana Roll-up: Spread whole grain tortilla with thin layer of peanut butter, drizzle with small amount of honey, place 1 whole banana at one end and roll up.

Veggie Basil: Spread thin layer of low-fat veggie cream cheese on tortilla, sprinkle with 1-2 T. fresh basil, add your favorite DiLusso deli meat, provolone cheese and fresh spinach leaves. Roll and enjoy.

Southwest: pre-cooked chicken strips, black beans, shredded lettuce, 2% milk cheese, salsa

Thai: rotisserie chicken, shredded coleslaw mix, Litehouse mild Thai peanut dressing and chopped dry roasted peanuts.


Asian: Use the salad kit in a bag. Add mandarin oranges and diced pre-cooked chicken (either canned, cooked breast meat, or DiLusso deli meat cubed).

Southwestern: romaine lettuce, kidney or black beans, 2% cheese, salsa, Mexicorn, low-fat ranch, lime squeezed over salad

Strawberry spinach: Top fresh spinach leaves with sliced strawberries, walnuts or pecans, pre-cooked chicken and a low-fat poppy seed dressing.

Fruit Inspired: Top romaine and baby spinach with mandarin oranges, strawberries, blueberries, walnuts or pecans, feta cheese, low-fat poppy seed dressing.

Club: Top romaine lettuce with tomatoes, cucumbers, diced chicken, 2% milk cheese, cut-up turkey bacon, favorite low-fat dressing

Side Options: Choose 1-3 options from different categories.


1 whole fruit: banana, peach, apple, pear, orange, plum, kiwi

1 cup cut-up/prepared fruit: grapes, strawberries, pineapple

Applesauce cup, unsweetened or light

Fruit in gel cups, light

Canned fruit in small cup, packed in water or own juice


1 cup raw veggies; baby carrots, carrot chips, celery, cauliflower, grape or cherry tomatoes, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, sliced peppers

Broccoli slaw mixed with small amount of low-fat mayo, shredded carrots and raisins

Side garden salad top with tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded carrots, low-fat dressing

Protein & Dairy:

String cheese

Cottage cheese, cup skim or 1%

Cheese cubes, 4 dice = 1 serving

Hard-boiled egg

Peanut butter (use as dip for fruit or veggies)

Light yogurt (look for one with less than 100 calories per serving)

Skim or 1% milk, 8 oz.

Pudding cup low-fat or sugar-free

Hummus dip (use on veggies or whole-wheat crackers)


Putting it all together

The following are examples of healthy balanced lunches:

Mini-bagels with peanut butter, baby carrots, yogurt

String cheese, hard-boiled egg, pretzels, apple, V8 V-Fusion

Leftover pizza, cherry tomatoes with dill dip, raisins, chocolate soy milk

Sliced ham and cheese with whole-grain crackers, zucchini sticks with ranch dressing,

Vegetable soup in a thermos, crackers with peanut butter, sliced peaches, milk

Tomato and mozzarella cheese on English muffin, soy nuts, fruit and Jell-O cup, milk

Tuna or chicken salad in pita bread, pickle slices/spears, fresh or canned pear, pudding cup, water

Rice cakes, hard-boiled egg, celery with peanut butter & raisins, flavored water