For some, school has already started, and for others there are still a couple of weeks before we have to start making lunches. Making healthy lunches can be challenging, especially if you have a picky eater. But with some weekly planning and asking for the kids to help with their lunch boxes, back to school lunches can be easy, and even fun.
Here are some tips to make healthy school lunches convenient without resorting to prepackaged options.
• Prepare and organize school lunches on Sunday for the entire week.
• Ask your children to help out – let them choose favorite fruits, veggies and sandwich ingredients. Assign them the role of assistant chef.
• Pick fun foods – if kids can squirt it, dip it, or sip it, they will love it.
• Use the rainbow approach – make meals healthy by including veggies of differing colors.
Remember fresh is best. Try to limit prepackaged foods, and include plenty of raw veggies in lunches.
• Pack leftovers from dinner in a thermos. If you are using a thermos to keep food warm, pour hot water in it and leave it for 10 minutes, then pour out the water and put in the heated food. This will help keep food warmer for longer.
Keep in mind that a child’s metabolism is high when he or she is growing and a lunch should provide one-third of the daily intake of vitamins, minerals, and calories for kids.
• A source of protein: meat, eggs, beans, legumes, tofu or seeds
• A source of calcium: milk (substitute fortified soy, almond, or rice milk), figs, cheese, yogurt or tahini
• Vegetables and fruit, especially dark green veggies: broccoli, spinach, romaine lettuce, as well as orange veggies such as carrots and sweet potatoes
• Whole grain bread, pasta, rice, oatmeal or couscous
Here is a week’s menu to help with ideas. Keep in mind that you can add more if your child needs more food. Check with your school to see if there are food restrictions.
• Cubed cooked chicken skewer with grape tomatoes and cucumber wedges
• Salad dressing as a dip
• Cheddar cheese
• Whole grain crackers
• Fruit salad or diced banana and apple with Greek yogurt
• Tuna in a whole grain pita with a little mayonnaise, spinach, and sliced tomato
• Carton of milk with a fun, reusable straw
• Sliced peaches
• Stringless snap peas
• Homemade trail mix (multigrain cereal, raisins, almonds, sunflower seeds, pretzel sticks and dark chocolate chips)
• Whole wheat pita pizza with chicken, diced veggies and cheese
• Unsweetened applesauce
• Cottage cheese
• Salmon sandwich on whole wheat bread with sliced cucumber and alfalfa sprouts
• Baby carrots and celery with hummus
• Greek yogurt
• Whole grain quesadilla made with ground turkey, tomato, peppers and cheese
• Salsa and sour cream
• Red pepper slices
• Cheese cubes.
Photo from here, with thanks.