If your kids are addicted to the pizza slices and chocolate cake served in the school cafeteria, you may think that they’ll turn up their noses at a healthy lunch from home. By cleverly disguising favorite foods, presenting options that are tasty and healthy, and letting kids help choose lunch foods, you can rest assured that your kids will be getting the nutrition they need.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a kid favorite, and with a little tweaking, you can kick up the nutritional value. Try whole grain bread, peanut butter, and a 100% fruit spread instead of sugar-packed jelly. If your child won’t eat whole grain bread, substitute bread that is 50% white, and 50% whole grain. Other sandwich options include tuna salad wrapped in a tortilla, with lettuce and tomatoes, egg salad on whole grain bread, or the child’s favorite deli meats, such as lean ham or turkey, with a slice of cheese.
Using an insulated lunch bag and freezer packs allows you to pack nutritious cold treats such as string cheese, fruit-flavored yogurt, or applesauce cups. Cut up chunks of fruit for a fruit salad, or pack potato or pasta salad. If your child likes green beans, pack raw green beans with a ranch dip, or a dip that your child enjoys.
Your child may prefer a hot lunch, and with insulated jars to keep food hot, you can pack soups such as tomato or chicken noodle with whole grain crackers, or a beef stew with a dinner roll. Beef stew provides protein, and is a tasty way to sneak in those vegetables. A serving of last night’s dinner casserole can be packed with a side of carrot sticks, and dip.
Crunchy foods are a popular choice for lunches, but instead of greasy fat-laden potato chips, pack baked chips or pretzels. Dried fruits such as raisins, banana chips, or dried cranberries not only taste good, but also count as a fruit serving. Walnuts, cashews, and almonds are good sources of protein, and by adding small candies or raisins, you’ve made a healthy trail mix.
Even the healthiest eaters need a sweet treat, so pack healthier options such as oatmeal cookies, energy bars, or rice krispy treats. If your child likes candy, miniature candy bars come in many varieties, and one bar will satisfy the treat urge, without overdoing the sugar content.
It’s tempting to hit the coke machine for a refreshing drink after a long morning of classes, but pack a favorite 100% juice box to quench your child’s thirst. A small bottle of water helps keep your child hydrated, and boosts flagging energy.