A Week of Back-to-School Lunch Ideas

When school is back in session, that means it’s time to start packing lunches again. Filing an entire week with delicious and nutritious lunch items that your kids will eat can be an ongoing challenge.

Assembling lunches can be harder than it seems, especially if you have fussy eaters and want to keep things reasonably healthy. Ideally, a nutritious lunch will include 1-2 servings of protein, at least one serving of whole grain, and one serving each of fruits and vegetables. So here is a week of back-to-school lunch ideas that your kids will be sure to love.

Monday

Pasta Salad on a Stick

This pasta salad on a stick recipe is fun to make and just as enjoyable for your kids to eat. Here are your ingredients:

  • 8 bamboo toothpicks
  • 8 cheese tortellini
  • 8 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 8 (1 inch) cubes of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 2 artichoke hearts (cut in quarters)
  • 8 thin slices of salami
  • 4 pitted black olives (halved)

Boil a small pot of lightly salted water, cook the tortellini until the pasta floats to the top (1-2 minutes), and drain. Then, thread your pasta on a stick in any order you wish — 1 tortellini, 1 salami slice, 1 tomato half, etc. Repeat.

Here are some additional items you can add to your child’s delicious lunch:

  • 1 cup pretzels
  • ½ cup avocado slices
  • Grapes
  • Mandarin orange

Tuesday

Sushi Sandwich Rolls

Kids love to pretend to eat like adults. While some kids might like actual sushi, we aren’t suggesting you get that fancy with your lunch prep. Instead, you can “roll up” fun and healthy ingredients in sushi-like rolls that your kids will love.

Start by flattening a piece of bread with a rolling pin or just using a whole wheat tortilla. Spread with peanut butter or cream cheese. Then top with meat, cheese, veggies, or fruit. Finally, roll them up and slice them to resemble sushi pieces.

Here are some additional items you can add to create a well-rounded lunch:

  • Sliced green apples and walnuts
  • ½ cup strawberries or blueberries
  • ½ whole grain muffin

Wednesday

Chicken Salad Wraps

Here is an easy chicken salad wrap you can make for kids who get tired of sandwiches. In a large bowl, combine:

  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup light mayo
  • ¾ cup sliced celery
  • 1 cup sliced green grapes
  • ¼ tsp pepper

Place about ½ cup of the chicken salad mixture onto the side of a tortilla/wrap and roll your tortilla up tightly. Slice the wrap in half.

Here are some other items you can add to your child’s healthy lunch:

  • Carrot sticks with hummus
  • 1 cup dried banana chips
  • 3 cups of popcorn

Thursday

Buffalo Chickpea Pinwheels

This vegetarian lunch option is also delicious and filling. Combine and blend in a food processor 1 16-oz can chickpeas (drained and rinsed), 3 tbsp buffalo sauce, ¼ cup vegan mayo, and ¼ tsp onion powder. Spread the mixture onto two large flour (whole wheat is ok) tortillas. Roll them up and chill for several minutes before slicing them into bite-sized pieces.

Here are some other items you can add to this yummy lunch:

  • ½ cup brown rice
  • 1 small apple
  • 1 cup celery sticks with almond butter

Friday

Lunch Box Quiche

These simple lunch box quiches are delicious and made from mini taco boats. You can ask your kids what ingredients they like, so they’ll be more likely to devour them. Start with ten taco boats or mini pie shells. Mix five eggs, ⅔ cup mozzarella cheese, and any fillings you want (fam, tomato, chicken, spinach, etc.). Pour your mixture into the boats and bake at 200 degrees for 15-17 minutes.

You can create a perfect Friday lunch by adding these items:

  • ½ cup trail mix
  • 1 cup tomato and cucumber salad
  • ½ whole wheat pita

Do Your Back-to-School Lunch Shopping at Nick’s of Clinton

When you’re shopping for your children’s lunches, you want the best and most affordable ingredients. For over 50 years, Nick’s Supermarket has been proudly serving the local community by delivering a full-service experience. Our business was built on a foundation of delivering superior quality products and the highest level of customer service.

When you shop at Nick’s, we provide one-stop shopping for all of your grocery needs, including a full-service deli and meat department and Nick’s signature line of products. Stop in and visit us today or give us a call at (301) 843-4825.

Portion Sizes – What Does a Serving Look Like?

No matter what kind of food you enjoy eating, how much of it you consume matters. Even if you eat nutrient-rich food, it’s a good idea to stay mindful of what you eat so that you can maintain a balanced diet. 

But how are you supposed to keep track of what’s going into your body? Is it by portion sizes or serving sizes? In many cases, these are two different measurements. Here’s what you need to know about these two measurements and how you can make sense of creating healthy portions. 

What is a Serving Size?

A serving size is a standard measurement of food that you’ll find on a nutrition fact label of most packaged foods. For example, depending on the food in question, a serving size might be stated as 1 slice, 1 cup, 10 g, or some other common measurement. 

What is a Portion Size?

A portion size is simply the amount of food you eat. It may or may not be equal to a serving size. It could be more or less. 

How Serving and Portion Sizes Have Changed

Few people have a strong understanding of how much food they really eat. And portion sizes have increased dramatically in recent years, leading to problems like obesity and other serious health concerns. 

According to an American Heart Association study, adults today consume 300 more calories on average daily than they did in 1985. Portion sizes have continued to grow over the past four decades. And Americans eat out more than they did in the past. Even the size of some packaged food, like bagels and cookies, has grown substantially, impacting serving sizes. 

What Does a Healthy Portion Look Like?

It’s important to note that serving sizes listed on nutrition labels are not a recommendation of how much you should eat. Instead, they are a benchmark for measuring and comparing the nutritional value of similar foods. So, if you compare two cans of green beans side by side, you can look at the nutritional value per serving. 

A healthy portion is probably going to vary based on your nutritional needs. So, one person might eat four crackers out of a box, which is the listed serving size, and another might eat five or six. 

A portion is simply how much food you choose to eat at one time, which is subjective. So, how do you know what a healthy portion looks like? Whether you’re cooking food or just putting it on your plate, you can use a few visual tools to measure your portions. 

  • An average-sized fist will be about the same as a 1 cup. This is an appropriate portion size for whole fruit, cooked or raw vegetables, and fruit juice. 
  • A tennis ball is about the same size as a ½ cup. This is also equal to about 1 ounce for food items like pasta, oatmeal, and rice. 
  • The palm of your hand or a deck of cards is about the equivalent of 3 ounces. This is an appropriate portion size for chicken, beef, fish, and other meats. 
  • The tip of your finger, or the size of a postage stamp, is about the same as a teaspoon, which is a good measurement for things like oils and other fats. 

Deciding How Much to Eat or Drink

Serving sizes listed on Nutritional Facts labels can easily be misconstrued as advice. Understandably, it’s difficult to determine the right amount to eat or drink, especially since everyone’s body is different. Here are a few tips to help you figure out the best strategy:

  • When eating out, try choosing smaller portions when available or splitting your meal in half.
  • Use tools like the National Institutes of Health Body Weight Planner to help you balance your activity levels and caloric intake.
  • Refer to the Nutritional Facts Panel on the food you purchase to understand the nutritional value of each serving. 
  • Eat slower to allow your stomach to adjust to your body’s hunger cues. In time, you’ll realize that your hunger is satisfied with less food than you think. 
  • Emphasize quality over quantity with your food choices. When you savor delicious food and beverages, they’ll be more satisfying. 

Get Delicious and High-Quality Food at Nick’s of Clinton

The right portion and serving sizes are more appetizing when you have delicious food on your plate. At Nick’s of Clinton, we offer the meat, dairy, produce, and other foods you want. Nick’s offers a full-service meat counter and deli as well as some of the tastiest prepared foods in the area. 

Visit our store today or contact us with any questions. We look forward to being a part of your healthy eating journey. 

Tips for Grilling Vegetables

Grilled vegetables can be delicious when prepared properly. They can also be kind of gross or a bit
of a mess if you don’t use the right approach. It’s ok if you’ve only used your grill to cook meat in the past. Maybe it’s time to expand your horizons and broaden the options on your dinner table. Here are some tips for grilling vegetables that will produce the best results.

Types of Vegetables that are Ideal for Grilling

The good news is that you can probably grill just about any type of vegetable. Grilling releases the food’s natural flavors and can put nice “char” on it that gives it an additional kick. Some of the favorites that work well on a grill include:

  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Yellow squash and zucchini
  • Corn
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Mushrooms

Cutting Your Vegetables to Get them Ready for Grilling

The trick to successfully grilling vegetables is to avoid cutting them too thin. Thicker cuts won’t cook too quickly or fall through your grill’s grates. Here are some cutting tips for those popular vegetables:

  •  Onions — Grilled onions are deliciously sweet! Peel them first and then either quarter
    them into small chunks or cut them into ½” thick rounds.
  • Potatoes — Cut large potatoes into ½” cubes or leave small fingerling potatoes as-is.
  • Bell peppers — Either cut your bell peppers into long ½” strips or simply cut them in half.
  • Yellow squash and zucchini — Squash and zucchini have a lot of water content, so they
    can be easy to overcook. Cut them into either ½” rounds or long ways using a mandolin
    with slices at least ½” thick.
  • Corn — Shuck your corn cobs, and they will be ready to place on the grill!
  • Brussel sprouts — Cut off the ends and remove the outer leaves. Then, cut them in half.
  • Mushrooms — Grill portobello mushrooms as-is. Smaller mushrooms can be cut in half.
    Seasoning Your Vegetables for Grilling

Most vegetables could benefit from some simple seasoning before you place them on the grill. One
recommendation is to lightly coat them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and some garlic powder. You can also add some other fun seasonings like balsamic, street corn seasoning, or different marinades according to your tastes.

How Long to Cook Vegetables on the Grill?

The cooking time for your veggies will vary depending on how thick they are sliced, how you are
grilling them, and your level of heat. That said, here is a rough guideline for some different types of vegetables:

  • Onions — Quarters should be grilled for about 15-20 minutes, but round slices will only
    take about 8-10 minutes.
  • Potatoes — Potatoes will usually take about 20-25 minutes to cook on the grill.
  • Bell peppers — Grill ½” strips for about 3-4 minutes per side and halves about 4-5 minutes per side.
  • Yellow squash and zucchini — Grill these veggies for about 3-4 minutes per side.
  • Corn — Corn takes about 15-20 minutes to cook on the grill. Make sure you are rotating it.
  • Brussel sprouts — Depending on how you cook them, brussel sprouts will cook in 10-20 minutes on the grill.
  • Mushrooms — Mushrooms take about 8-10 minutes to cook on the girl and will require flipping.

Different Methods for Grilling Vegetables

What types of vegetables you are cooking and the materials available to you might determine how
you approach your meal preparation. Here are several options for grilling your vegetables:

Directly on the Grill

Large veggies, like corn and large chunks of onion or bell pepper, can be placed directly on the grill. Season them first and cook for about five minutes over medium to medium-high heat before flipping.

Foil Packets

If you have small vegetables, like mushrooms or brussel sprouts, foil packets are an excellent option for grilling. Preheat your grill to medium or medium-high and then place your foil packets on the grill for about 20 minutes. Poke a few holes in the top.

 Grill Basket

Similar to foil packets, a grill basket will protect your veggies from falling through the grates. Preheat your grill to medium or medium-high, and then cook your veggies for roughly 20 minutes, stirring or flipping them about every five minutes.

Vegetable Kabobs

Finally, a favorite way to grill vegetables is by making veggie kabobs. Make sure you combine
similar-sized veggies on your kabobs and then turn them halfway through cooking.

Choose Nick’s of Clinton for Your Grilling Needs

Now that you know how to grill delicious vegetables, it’s time to go shopping. Nick’s of Clinton offers the highest quality products at the most affordable prices in the area. For over 50 years, our family has offered the community a family-oriented shopping experience, a unique alternative to the massive chain stores.

We welcome you to come in and check out our fresh produce, high-quality meats, and signature
seasonings and sauces. We’d be happy to help you with product selection and provide preparation
tips if you need them. Visit or contact us today!

Healthy Breakfast Alternatives

Some of the most common items we fill up on to start the day are not the healthiest choices. They can be full of white flour or sugar and have little to no nutritional value.

But your morning meal is supposed to be one of the most important ones of the day, setting you up for success or putting you on the wrong path if you make poor choices. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives to those popular packaged and surgery foods that will leave you feeling full and give you plenty of energy to start the day.

Here some healthy breakfast alternatives to put on your next shopping list:

Breakfast Smoothies
Breakfast smoothies are all the rage. Veggie and fruit smoothies are packed with antioxidants and vitamins, and they taste great. One of the best things about smoothies is that you can customize your concoction to suit your particular tastes and needs.

Most people begin with a base, such as coconut water, almond milk, or fruit juice, and then add in their favorite fruits and veggies. You can create a smoothie that is sweet, tropical, savory, or some combination of those flavors.

Muesli
If you tend to get hungry mid-morning, you might want to try a filling but healthy breakfast like muesli. This is a fiber-rich food that expands in your stomach and makes you feel full. It is also packed with vitamin B, which will give you plenty of energy to launch you into the day.

You can prepare this meal by combining ½ cup of water with ½ cup of muesli until it is cooked. You can then add fruit, honey, or other toppings to your taste.

Fruit Topped Yogurt
If you are not eating yogurt for breakfast, you are missing out on something healthy and delicious. Yogurt is low in calories but is loaded with protein, vitamins, and probiotics.

Greek yogurt is the best choice because it is generally lower in sugar than other options. If you want to sweeten plain yogurt, you can top it with granola, fresh berries, or honey.

Eggs
Eggs are probably the ultimate breakfast food. Why? They keep you full, are loaded with protein and antioxidants, and are incredibly versatile.

You can fix eggs a variety of ways and combine them with just about anything to make a tasty meal. Whether they are fried, poached, scrambled, or hard-boiled, you can combine them with some toast or fresh fruit for a balanced and healthy breakfast.

Almond Butter and Banana Toast
Toast is always an excellent breakfast choice that is loaded with vitamins and fiber. You can improve on that age-old tradition by adding potassium to your toast. Banana toast will give you the benefits of fiber as well as regulate stress and improve mood. Top it with almond butter, and you will have some additional energy to start your day.

Chia Pudding
It might sound weird but hear us out. Chia pudding is a delicious alternative to regular pudding that is rich in fiber, omega-3’s, and antioxidants. You make by soaking chia seeds in a liquid that turns into a pudding-like mix. You can also add things like vegetables and non-dairy milk to your mix and top it off with fresh fruit for a creamy and delicious morning treat.

Quinoa
If you are not a fan of traditional or hot cereal, consider giving quinoa a try for breakfast. This super grain contains a ton of protein, iron, and fiber, and is probably one of the healthiest foods you can find.

Granted, many people complain that quinoa lacks flavor. But it is incredibly filling, making it an ideal breakfast food. You can add flavor with items like maple syrup and fresh fruit to create a natural and wholesome meal.

Granola
Granola is an excellent choice if you want to get away from some of those sugary boxed cereals. But be sure to choose your granola wisely.

Avoid artificial granola that has sugar additives and, instead choose a product that is organic or has all-natural ingredients. Once you have found the perfect granola, you can eat it like you would cereal or mix it in your yogurt.

Oatmeal with Fruit
Oatmeal is a traditional breakfast food that deserves your attention. It is both nutritious and fulfilling. You can create a nearly endless combination of oatmeal goodness by combining the food with milk, syrup, and other natural sugars like fresh fruit.

Get the Highest-Quality Products and Freshest Ingredients

If you would like to make breakfast a healthier and more enjoyable meal, Nicks of Clinton can help. We offer some of the freshest ingredients in the area as well as some unique and high-quality products for any meal.

In the world of big box stores, our team has worked extremely hard to offer our customers the personalized service they deserve. We look forward to serving you at our Gateway Plaza location, or you can give us a call at (301) 843-4825 with any questions.