Quick tips for preparing nutritious lunch

By Tanya Davis | Published Wednesday, August 22, 2018

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Can you believe the kids are already back in school? Summer flew by, and it’s time to get back into a daily routine.

Some people think it is impossible to prepare a nutritious lunch that includes whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy and fruits and vegetables. Here are a few tricks:

  • Prep vegetables and fruits the night before. This will save time, and research has shown that kids eat more fruits and vegetables when fruits and veggies are already cut up.
  • Add in healthy sides – unsweetened applesauce, 2 percent cheese sticks, flax crackers and salsa, nuts, low-fat Greek yogurt and fruit and veggie cups. A homemade cookie or whole grain fig cookie is OK as an occasional treat.
  • Use portion boxes. There are many lunch boxes on the market that help keep portions in check. Get your kids involved in the process of picking out what foods go into each compartment to keep them excited.
  • Think outside the sandwich. Variety is one of the keys for both kids and adults eating healthy. Try a wrap, pasta salad, black bean tacos or peanut butter and dried cherries on a bagel flat.

Included below, courtesy of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Dinner Tonight program is a kid friendly, nutritious lunch or snack idea for any occasion.


  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked and cooled
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed


  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 chopped garlic clove or teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

In a mixing bowl, stir together rice, onion, peppers and beans.

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, add vinegar, dry mustard, garlic, vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Shake until dressing is evenly mixed.

Pour dressing over bean mixture, and stir to mix evenly. Chill for one hour. Serve cold as a side dish or main dish.

Nutrient information per 1 cup serving: 90 calories; 7 g fat; 830 mg sodium; 38 g carbohydrates; 6 g fiber; 10 g protein.

Tanya Davis is a Wise County Extension agent.

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