Beat the lunch crunch

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Linda McLean joins us to tell us how to beat the lunch crunch.  Here's some great advice and recipes...

Beat the Lunch-Prep Crunch and Save Money Too!

Whether you’re packing lunch for yourself or the whole household, these streamlining strategies will get you out of the kitchen faster and save money as well. When you’re pressed for time, making a bagged lunch to bring to work or school is often the first thing that falls off the radar. Sure, you could send the kids off with a few dollars for the cafeteria, or pick up soup at the local deli during your lunch break. But a home-packed lunch is almost always more nutritious, tasty (it’s customized for you, by you), and cheaper than anything you’d purchase. Try one or more of these time-saving and money saving ideas:

1.     Prep like a Professional After a long day, the last thing you want to do is get back in the kitchen and prepare tomorrow’s lunch. But the more you get ready for the day – or week – ahead, the less hectic your mornings will be. Wash, cut, and create zipper baggies full of fruit, veggies, or other snacks .  Shake it up and try different veggies and fruits to keep it interesting.

PROPS:  Bags of carrots and celery with small container of peanut butter and grapes, bananas, apple sandwich with PB and raisin

2.     Multitask During Mealtime Try packing lunches while you’re making dinner – use the downtime while the water is boiling or the chicken is under the broiler. That way even though you’re making two meals, you only have one clean-up. Or take it further and make a little extra dinner, and then pack leftovers into lunch containers.

Props: Grilled chicken with salad as a “leftover” lunch

3.     Take Every Shortcut The more shortcuts you can find, the quicker it’ll be done. Line up lunch boxes and pack them assembly-line style. Use cooking scissors to cut up fruits or vegetables instead of a knife and cutting board so there’s less to clean up. Fill a reusable water bottle mostly with ice – it’ll help keep lunch cold, and eliminates the need to add an ice pack.

PROP:  Interesting selection of fruits:   Plastic bag of red and green grapes, sliced up kiwi, strawberries with mini chocolate chips sprinkled on top

4.     Put the Kids to Work  Keep two bins – one in your fridge and the other in you pantry – stocked with items for lunch. That way, it’s easy for the kids to quickly assemble their own lunches – and less likely they’ll trade their food away. Let the kids pick what they want from the box and make their own lunches. If they do it while you are making dinner you can supervise and have company!

Props:  Refrigerator bin with turkey, cheese, mustard, baggies of fruit and veggies. Pantry bin with baggies of healthy items…whole wheat bread, peanut butter, baggies of fresh popped popcorn, oatmeal raisin cookie, whole grain cereal or granola bar, graham crackers with banana and peanut butter

5.     Outsource it, Occasionally
It’s okay to give yourself a day off – especially if you plan ahead. Many school districts are making an effort to offer more nutritious choices. Letting your kids buy lunch once a week helps teach them how to make smart food decisions.  Plus, they’re learning valuable skills like how to wait in line, ask for what they want, and pay for their lunch. Review your school’s cafeteria menu on Sunday night and let your child decide which day to buy.

As you go back to work and school this fall and preparing for a healthy fall start think about giving back to your local food bank. This year, as part of our 5th annual Lose for Good food drive event, Weight Watchers will hold a special one-day food drive on September 15th  to benefit local food banks and to help fight hunger right here in our own community. There will be a very special one day joining offer, prizes, refreshments, recipes and more.  To find out about how you can give back through Lose for Good, please visit

Lets take a look at some easy recipes that anyone will love:


Stoplight Pita Sandwiches:  Serves: 3  Prep:10 minutes  Kids love miniatures and this spread makes a delicious sandwich packed with protein and veggies.

1 cup famer cheese

½  red bell pepper, diced

½  yellow bell pepper, diced

¼ cup shredded, reduced fat cheddar cheese

2 scallions, trimmed and diced

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

3 mini whole wheat pita breads, halved

Stir the farmer cheese, bell peppers, cheddar, scallions, and black pepper together in a medium bowl.  Divide the mixture among the pita halves.

Per serving (2 pita halves) : 251 cal,


Turkey and Cheddar Wrap

PointsPlus Value 7

Prep time:  10 min  Cook time:  0 min  Serves: 2


1 1/2 Tbsp reduced-calorie mayonnaise   


2 tsp mustard, coarse-grain   


2 medium whole wheat tortilla(s), warmed according to package directions   


4 oz cooked turkey breast with skin, chopped   


1/4 tsp table salt   


1/8 tsp black pepper, freshly ground (or to taste)   


1/2 cup(s) fresh tomato(es), diced   


2 Tbsp uncooked red onion(s), diced   


1 cup(s) fresh lettuce   


3 Tbsp low-fat shredded Cheddar cheese, sharp-variety   

In a small cup, combine mayonnaise and mustard. Lay tortillas on a cutting board; spread with mustard mixture. Top tortillas with turkey, placing it about 1-inch from edges; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top turkey with tomatoes, onion, lettuce and cheese. Tuck in sides of tortilla and then roll it up tightly; cut in half on a diagonal. Yields 2 halves per serving

Of course, a key ingredient to feeding our kids in a healthy way is having access to nutritious foods. 

  • That’s the goal of the 5th Annual Lose For Good campaign. As members and subscribers lose weight, Weight Watchers donates up to one million dollars to hunger fighting organizations.
  • Since Lose For Good started in 2008, Weight Watchers members in {YOUR CITY}, and across the country, have donated over 5.6 million pounds of food to local food pantries.
  • This year, Weight Watchers will hold a special one-day food drive on September 15th  to benefit local food banks and to help fight hunger right here in our own community. There will be a very special one day joining offer, prizes, refreshments, recipes and more
  • When donating to the food bank …think about nutritious options like peanut butter, tuna, vegetables-things that can help others eat healthy,