Packaged Meal Sets
Kids also need take-out meals, which is why you’ll often find pre-packaged meal packs in the deli department. The healthier of these products generally consist of crackers, meat and cheese combined with a juice box and a candy. It goes downhill from there with pizza or nacho options — all loaded with preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, and more sugar than a child should eat in a whole day, says Julie Cunningham, a board-certified diabetes educator in Hendersonville, North Carolina . “These have no veggies, no fiber, and are definitely not a good way to teach kids what a healthy lunch should be,” she adds.
Instead, opt for a hard-boiled egg and a tangerine for a quick meal that’s more filling than a boxed lunch. Or if they love the kit option, look for kid-friendly versions with unprocessed meats, whole-wheat crackers, bottled water, and dried fruit.
Nobody thinks fried chicken is the healthiest choice for a quick dinner, but how bad can it really be? Pretty damn bad, says Registered Dietitian Melissa Mitri. Fried chicken is loaded 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 alluring aroma; This meal will leave you bloated, tired and not as hot.
Instead, opt for less processed protein sources, like lightly seasoned chicken from the salad bar. If you’re dying to try the crispy chicken, ask for some small strips to cut over a large green salad.
Who doesn’t love a good, hearty sandwich? Many pre-made subs are loaded with processed meats and cheeses, oily toppings, and sugary breads. It is possible to choose a healthier option with lots of vegetables on whole grain bread. However, there’s a simpler reason Mitri avoids sandwiches: “They get soggy real quick!” she says. “Plus, they’re so easy to make at home that I don’t feel like I’m saving time by buying them at the deli.”
Instead of going for a pre-made sandwich, ask for your sandwich to be made to order — that way you can control the ingredients and avoid the soggy bread problem.