On-the-Go Meal Ideas for Busy Families

Portable Meal and Side Options for Summer

Growing up on a farm in south central Kansas, one of my jobs during wheat harvest was to help prepare and take portable meals to the field at dinner time. We consumed the meal on the bed of a pickup truck and then everyone quickly got back to work with their harvest duties.

As a busy mom of two, I find myself relying on some of those “On-the-Go” meal ideas when my daughters have evening activities such as t-ball games and soccer practice! I know that our evenings are only going to get busier as the girls get older. 😉

Are you a busy family and tired of getting fast food or packing boring sandwiches? Look no further for some portable meal options that will keep your family fed and happy.

Photo: Portable meal ideas for summer - Lunchable.

Portable meal idea for summer – Lunchable

Portable Meal Options

  • Wraps – Grain, Protein, Vegetables and Dairy – add side of fresh fruit like grapes or apple slices which hold up well when transported. Try this Southwest Chicken Salad served in a whole grain tortilla.
  • Speaking of tortillas, tortilla roll-ups are another tasty “on-the-go” meal. The bite-size portions are easy to eat on the go!
  • Cheeseburger or pizza pockets made with refrigerated pizza dough are a great hand-held option for on-the-go meals. Pockets can be customizable for different tastes. Try ham and cheese or pizza inspired pockets.
  • Make your own “lunchables.” Pack whole grain crackers paired with a cheese stick and slices of deli meat for a quick protein-packed meal or try hummus with pita chips and veggies served with fresh fruit.
  • This slightly sweet Cranberry-Almond Chicken Salad is perfect on whole grain bread or artisanal bread, include a piece of lettuce on both sides of the bread to keep bread from getting soggy as the sandwich is transported.

Healthy Sides

Often times the typical side dish for on-the-go meals is chips. Looking for some healthy ideas of what to pack as a side?  Try these:

  • Pasta salad is a great addition to any meal. Pack in individual disposable containers to accompany a meal. This Greek Orzo Salad is a family favorite!
  • Cut raw veggies. Baby carrots, celery sticks, bell pepper slices, cucumber slices, zucchini strips.
  • Fresh fruit – Fruits that are easily transportable include sliced apples, bananas, grapes, orange slices, watermelon cut into cubes, or cantaloupe chunks.
  • Pita bread or chips paired with hummus. Hummus can be purchased in individual serving sizes which make it easy for on-the-go meals.
  • Freeze yogurt tubes for a sweet treat. The frozen tubes will thaw out during transport but still be chilled.
  • Apple Cinnamon Snack Mix makes for a great snack or side for families to enjoy!

Food Safety

It’s important to think about food safety when you are transporting food away from your kitchen. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Packing cold food in coolers with ice packs can keep food safe while transporting. You can also freeze a water bottle to use as an ice pack and as it thaws you’ll have cold water to enjoy. Wrapping hot foods in foil can help keep food warm as it is transported.

Jill Ladd MPH, RD, LD

— Contributed by Jill Ladd, MPH, RD, LD