Tip For Packing Healthy Meals For Your Kids: Part 3

In parts one and two of this series, we shared tips and best practices for meal planning, grocery shopping, prepping and packing healthy, balanced meals for your family. Now it’s time to put your training into practice. Here are three kid-approved recipes that travel well, taste great and are packed with vital nutrients:

Carrot Cake Oatmeal
Eating on-the-go has never tasted so sweet! If your children have a sweet tooth, they’ll go wild for this decadent (yet healthy) dish that’s the next best thing to eating cake for breakfast. The old-fashioned oats are heart healthy, while the apple and carrot contain fiber and vitamins. Make ahead on prep day and store in your refrigerator for several days. Makes eight servings.

Raisins add fiber and sweetness to oatmeal for a heart-healthy breakfast that’s good all year round.


Cooking spray
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon plus one pinch salt
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups lowfat milk
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 large egg
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 medium Golden Delicious apple (unpeeled), cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1 cup)
1 or 2 medium carrots, scrubbed well and shredded (1 cup)
1/2 cup raisins


  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
    2. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish or a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate with cooking spray.
    3. Mix together 1/2 cup pecans, 2 tablespoons coconut, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, brown sugar and pinch of salt in medium bowl.
    4. Stir together oats, baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon salt in mixing bowl.
    5. Whisk together milk, maple syrup, egg, oil and vanilla extract in liquid measuring cup.
    6. Pour the milk mixture over the oat mixture, stirring to combine.
    7. Mix in the remaining 1/2 cup pecans and remaining 2 tablespoons coconut, plus the apple, carrots and raisins.
    8. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Top with the pecan-coconut mixture.
    9. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden at the edges and just set in center.
    10. Divide portions into leak-proof one-cup containers. Reheat and serve when ready.

(Recipe from the December 15 issue of the Washington Post, as listed at washingtonpost.com.)

Hearty Tuna Salad

This portable lunch is protein-rich to keep little bellies full through the afternoon. Dark leafy greens such as romaine or arugula are nutrient dense (vitamins A, C and K) so be sure to choose these over iceburg lettuce. When stored in a salad pod, which features a separate dressing dispenser, salad stays crunchy until ready to eat - perfect for packing in advance. Serves four.

Salad can quickly become a kid-favorite; try different greens and toppings until you find a winner!


8-ounce bag of salad greens, washed
1 pint container cherry tomatoes, washed
15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained
1 ounce capers
1 cup mushrooms, washed
4 stalks celery, washed and chopped
12-ounce can albacore tuna, drained
2 ounces all-natural mayonnaise
3/4 cup mustard
1/4 cup lemon juice


  1. In large bowl, combine salad greens, cherry tomatoes, beans, capers, mushrooms and celery.
    2. In small bowl, mix tuna and mayonnaise. Add to large bowl.
    3. Divide salad and tuna mixture into four salad pods.
    4. In small bowl, stir together mustard and lemon juice. Divide into four dressing dispensers.
    5. When ready to eat, pour dressing over salad and enjoy.

Pesto Chicken Salad Pitas
Move over Taco Tuesdays - there's a new favorite dinner in town. This movable feast features muscle-building chicken, crunchy baby spinach and whole wheat pita rounds. If you're short on time you can buy an already cooked rotisserie chicken and shred it. Or, you can buy chicken breasts in bulk to save money and cook a few extra for use in this recipe. Serves four.


1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
3 tablespoons pesto
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup grated carrot
4 mini whole wheat pita rounds, split
1 cup baby spinach leaves, washed


  1. Combine mayonnaise, pesto, lemon juice and pepper in a medium bowl; whisk until well blended.
    2. Add chicken and carrots; stir to combine. Store in refrigerator.
    3. Stuff each pita evenly with spinach leaves and chicken salad mixture.
    4. Pack each pita in a sandwich pod and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

(Recipe from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, as listed at eatright.org.)

Stay tuned for part four in this series where we'll give you the lowdown on Bento boxes, the perfect solution for picky eaters!

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