Packaged meal packs
Kids also need take-away meals, which is why you can often find prepackaged meal packs in the deli section. The healthiest of these products generally consist of crackers, meat, and cheese combined with a juice box and a candy. From there, it goes downhill for pizza or nacho options — all full of preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, and more sugar than a kid should eat in an entire day, says Julie Cunningham, a certified diabetes educator in Hendersonville, North Carolina. . “These have no vegetables, no fiber and are definitely not a good way to teach kids what a healthy lunch should be,” she adds.
Instead, choose a hard-boiled egg and a tangerine for a quick meal that’s more filling than a prepackaged lunch. Or if they love the kit option, look for kid-friendly versions made with unprocessed meats, whole grain crackers, bottled water, and dried fruit.
No one thinks roast chicken is the healthiest choice for a quick dinner, but how bad can it be? Pretty bad, says registered dietitian Melissa Mitri. Baked chicken is packed with calories, salt, and saturated fats, not to mention the often rancid oils it’s fried in, she explains. Don’t be fooled by its tantalizing aroma; this meal will leave you feeling bloated, tired and not so hot.
Instead, opt for less processed protein sources, such as lightly seasoned chicken from the salad bar. If you want to taste the crispy chicken, ask for a few small strips to slice over a large green salad.
Who doesn’t love a good, hearty sandwich? Many ready-made subs are loaded with meats and cheeses, fatty toppings, and sugary bread. It is possible to choose a healthier option with lots of vegetables on whole wheat bread. However, there’s a simpler reason why Mitri doesn’t get sandwiches: “They get soggy very quickly!” she says. “Plus, they’re just so easy to make at home, I don’t feel like buying them from the deli will save me time.”
Instead of grabbing a ready-made sub, ask for your sandwich to be made to order — that way you have control over the ingredients and avoid the soggy bread problem.