The best fruit for lunch should be a healthy and delicious option with plenty of nutritional value. The best fruits for lunch would be apples, bananas, and oranges. However, this may be subjective depending on what sort of work you do during the day. Does anyone actually want to carry around a walking banana or orange? Everyone should enjoy their lunch, so here are some of the best fruit choices for lunch.
How to Eat Fruit for Breakfast & Lunch to Lose Weight
Fruit has a reputation for being a healthy choice in any balanced diet and for good reason. Fruits contain a host of vitamins and minerals, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends adults eat between 1 1/2 and 2 cups of fruit each day. So get creative by making tasty, low-calorie fruit-filled breakfasts and lunches.
Fruity Ideas for Breakfast and Lunch
- Choose lower-calorie fruits when possible. Fruits that are lower in sugar and higher in fiber will help keep you feeling fuller, notes nutritionist Dr. Jonny Bowden. Apples, grapefruit and berries are Bowden’s top choices, but cherries, rhubarb, melon, peaches, guava and papaya are all low in sugar as well.
- Pick whole fruits over juice, advises Dr. Kara Mohr on the Fitness Magazine website. Juice won’t really satiate you, and you’re more likely to feel hungry sooner.
- Add protein to your breakfast and your lunch. While the fiber in fruit will help maintain your fullness, adding protein increases this effect. Try having your fruit alongside an omelet or blending mixed berries with protein powder for breakfast. Lunch could be an apple or orange on the side of a mixed green salad with turkey breast. Or try pineapple and raspberries mixed into cottage cheese and topped with some flaked almonds.
- Mix a combination of berries into oatmeal instead of honey or maple syrup. Berries are much lower in calories and sugar and higher in nutrients than syrups.
- Blend up different types of fruit to make your own spreads for toast. Like honey and maple syrup, commercially produced preserves and spreads can be packed with sugar, but blending your own peaches, figs and blackberries means you get a fresh taste with no added sugar.
- Switch your side of chips at lunch for a fruit salad. Chips — even the low-fat kind — are still high in calories, not particularly filling and devoid of nutrients, so go for a fruit salad with grapefruit, melon and oranges instead.
- Throw some fruit into your lunchtime salad to give it a sweet kick. Raisins go well in Moroccan chicken salad, apples can be used in a Waldorf salad or add currants to a coronation chicken or turkey salad made with low-fat yogurt and curry powder. Even strawberries combine well with balsamic vinegar and bitter salad leaves like rocket, or try a pomegranate and feta cheese salad.
- Get a variety of different fruits so you get the different benefits that various types offer. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, no one type provides everything you need, so aim to switch it up. Either stick with the same few fruits for a week, then make a complete switch in week two, or change them daily.
Calorie Crunching at Breakfast and Lunch
- Work out how many calories you should be aiming for each day. If you’re not particularly active, you need between 10 and 12 calories per pound of body weight per day to maintain your weight, according to Margaret Powers of the American Dietetic Association. To lose weight, aim for around 300 to 500 less than this total per day.
- Divide your total daily calorie intake by the number of meals you’ll eat in a day. If you’re planning on eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, divide by three to find the calories you should eat at each meal. If you weigh 150 pounds for instance, you should be eating a minimum of 1,500 calories per day. With three meals per day, this gives you 500 calories for breakfast and 500 calories for lunch.
- Find out how many calories the fruit you’re planning on eating contains. Fruits don’t always have the calorie contents listed on the packaging, so you may need to use an online database. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has tables on its website detailing the calories, carbs, fat and protein of the 20 most frequently consumed fruits, which may be of use.
- Factor the calories from fruit into the rest of the meal. If you’ve decided on eating a banana and an orange at breakfast and a kiwi fruit with some strawberries for lunch, weigh or measure your servings, find the calorie content and subtract this from 500, yielding the number of calories you have left to eat from nonfruit foods.
12 Essential Lunch Box Fruits
Add these 12 Essential Lunch Box Fruits to your child’s lunchbox to give them an energy boost this school year!
Fruit is one food that always goes in when I’m making lunch. It’s colorful, bright, and so nutritious. You may be surprised at the variety your kid will eat when they’re hungry at school since fruits are jam packed with fiber and natural sugars that are nutrient dense! Here are some of my fun tips for serving fruit in school lunches:
- Try a variety of seasonal fruits as they taste better and are more affordable
- Cutting fruits in a variety of shapes can make them even more appealing, especially for kids who tend to avoid them. Thing balls, squares, unique shapes and more. Try this melon baller set, for example!
- Most juices are packed with sugar and get kids full quickly. Eating fresh fruit like apples, oranges and grapefruits instead of juice can boost the fiber your child’s body desperately needs.
- To prevent choking, chop fruit into smaller bite size pieces which are good for fine motor skills and easier to chew.
- Here are my suggested serving sizes for different age groups (1 serving = 1/2 cup chopped fruit)
- Age 2-6 = generally 2 servings
- Older than 6 = generally 3 servings
- Active kids = generally 4 servings
- These are national guidelines at a minimum. Fruits are the types of natural sweets you want your kids eating, so offer fresh fruits at every meal.
For my kids, the more fun their school lunch looks always has to do with how much they will eat, so for these combos I put them in these rainbow colored pillboxes. You can pack these boxes up to carry along during the day as they’re the perfect one serving portion size. Kids will love getting to open the tops and see the surprise inside.
Strawberries and Blueberries
- Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese and also contain decent amounts of folate (vitamin B9) and potassium.
- Blueberries are often labeled a super-fruit because they are low in calories and are incredibly high in antioxidants!
Grapes and Figs
- Grapes are a good source of fiber, potassium, and a range of vitamins and other minerals. The nutrients in grapes may help protect against cancer, eye problems, cardiovascular disease, and other health conditions.
- Figs are one of the richest plant sources of a variety of vitamins and minerals, including:
vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium zinc, copper manganese, and iron.
Cherries and Peaches
- Cherries are a good source of fiber, which helps keep your digestive system healthy by fueling beneficial gut bacteria.
- Peaches are packed with antioxidants and also are great sources for Vitamin C and Vitamin A
Cantaloupe and Raspberries
- Cantaloupe has more beta carotene than apricots, grapefruit, oranges, peaches, tangerines, nectarines, and mangoes. Once eaten, beta carotene is either converted into vitamin A or acts as a powerful antioxidant to help fight free radicals that attack cells in your body.
- Raspberries are a great source of fiber and vitamin C.
The Best Fruit-Centric Snacks to Pack in Your Kid’s Lunch
Meghan was the Food Editor for Kitchn’s Skills content. She’s a master of everyday baking, family cooking, and harnessing good light. Meghan approaches food with an eye towards budgeting — both time and money — and having fun. Meghan has a baking and pastry degree, and spent the first 10 years of her career as part of Alton Brown’s culinary team. She co-hosts a weekly podcast about food and family called Didn’t I Just Feed You.
Fruit is like the hole-in-one of my children’s lunch boxes; it is one of the few things my kids are guaranteed to eat every day. (The same cannot be said for green vegetables or even baby carrots.)
The pitfall of fruit is that some of its best specimens — summer strawberries, delicate fall pears — take a beating in transportation from backpack to bus stop to school cubby. These four fruit-centric snacks always hold up best in my kids’ packed lunches and are my go-to no matter the season.
1. Fresh Fruit
The two fresh fruits that can stand up to time spent in a lunch box are apples and bananas. The trick to sending apples and making sure they get eaten is to slice them. Don’t worry, though — there is a super-easy trick for keep your apples from browning! Make a simple salt brine and soak them in it before packing.
Bananas come in their own packaging (their peels!), making them ideal lunch box fillers. For smaller eaters, it does help to halve the banana so they can peel it themselves later.
2. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit gets a bad rap for being higher in sugar than fresh fruit, so make sure that you’re buying dried fruit without added sugar. Buy dried fruit whenever it goes on sale — we regularly stock up on the Simply Balanced and Made in Nature brands from Target — because it lasts basically forever.
3. Fruit Cups
Yes, I am talking about the containers of fruit cocktail or mandarin oranges that you might have grown up with. And no, you don’t have to buy them in sugar-heavy syrup. We love the 100 percent fruit juice variety of pears, peaches, and grapefruit for lunch boxes. Plus they are shelf-stable, so I can stock up on these at Costco and pack them whenever the fridge is bare.
4. Fruit Chips
Freeze-dried fruit is also a great option. These crunchy fruit crisps, like banana chips, can be used a chip or cracker alternative and as a dipper for yogurt. Fruit chips and freeze-dried fruit can be more expensive — especially when compared to it’s fresh counterpart — but these are a great alternative when your littlest is going through texture aversions. Target and Costco are two great places to get deals on both.
Lunch Box Food Ideas – Fruits
Today’s post is another in my ‘lunch box food ideas’ mini-series, in which I am sharing food ideas to cover each of the five food groups that I use when packing lunches.
The food groups that I try to include in every lunch, based on the UK’s Eatwell Plate recommendations are as follows: starchy foods (carbohydrates), vegetables, fruit, dairy and non-dairy protein. I hope that when the series is complete, you will have a whole range of ideas to mix and match together, so that you can easily pack varied and interesting lunches to last the whole year through!
Last week I shared ideas for different sources of protein, in today’s post I am exploring fruit, so will share with you 12 different ideas for fruits that you can pack in your lunch box. This list is not intended to be exhaustive, just a good place to start if you’re looking for some fresh ideas.
I should probably also note that I am not a nutritionist or dietician – these ideas are based purely on my personal knowledge and research, and my own experience in packing lunches for my family.
1. Apricots – Fresh apricots are wonderful when they are in season – serve whole, or stoned and halved or sliced. For the rest of the year dried apricots also make a great lunch box food – they’re really handy to have in the cupboard for those days when you’ve run out of fresh fruit. Serve whole or chopped into little pieces and mixed with other dried fruits.
2. Grapes – We are big fans of grapes in this house! We alternate between green and red, and almost always have some grapes in the fridge. Serve as they come, or skewer on long food picks to make fruity kebabs. Grapes also freeze beautifully – you can eat them straight from the freezer (better than an ice pop on a hot day!) or pop them frozen in a lunch box – they’ll defrost but stay beautifully cool for lunch time.
3. Citrus Fruits – We almost always have a variety of oranges and ‘peeling oranges’ (clementines, satsumas & mandarins) as Small Child calls them in our fruit bowl. Serve oranges sliced – like grapes, they freeze well and can be added to a lunch box straight from the freezer, to be nicely defrosted by lunch time. Pop clementines etc into a lunch box whole, or peeled and broken into segments. Add to fruit skewers or fruit salads.
4. Kiwi -Cut kiwi fruits in half and pack a small spoon, or peel and cut into slices or chunks. When cutting in half, use a small sharp knife to cut a zig-zag pattern for extra pretty fruit (check out how I made them into kiwi dinosaur eggs!)
5. Dried Cranberries – like apricots, dried cranberries are an excellent store-cupboard stand-by and they make a nice change from raisins. Serve as they come, add to salads, sprinkle on top of yoghurts or mix with other dried fruits, nuts and seeds to make a tasty trail mix.
6. Apple – Pop a whole apple in your lunch box, or core and cut into slices, rings or chunks. You can carve pretty patterns into apple skin using a small sharp knife and/or mini bento cutters. Don’t forget to dip or brush any cut surfaces with orange or lemon juice to prevent browning.
7. Bananas – Fresh Bananas are a classic lunch box fruit, with good reason – they make the perfect healthy fast food! In their dried form, banana chips are another great store-cupboard staple that we always have on hand. They can be quite high in sugar, particularly if they’ve been coated in honey or similar, so are best kept as an occasional treat. You could also try making your own.
8. Blueberries – Blueberries have a great reputation as a super food, and they’re easy to add to a lunch box. Serve as they come, or add to salads, fruit salad or fruit kebabs. Add them to home-made muffins and pancakes or chop and use to top yoghurt. Dried blueberries are also tasty, and another great dried fruit to keep in your store-cupboard.
9. Dried Apple Rings – As you can probably tell by now, I like to have plenty of dried fruit options in the cupboard for disorganised days! Dried apple rings are usually soft and chewy, and are a big hit with both of my children. Serve in rings, or chop into small pieces and mixed with other dried fruit, nuts or seeds to make a tasty trail mix. We like to add them to homemade granola, which makes a great topping for yoghurt.
10. Strawberries – No British summer is complete without strawberries! Serve them as they come, just slice off the tops or cut into slices or chunks. Add to fruit salads or use them in fruit kebabs. I love hulling strawberries and decorating them with cute leaf picks!