Being a mom, making school lunches every day for my children becomes very challenging in keeping lunches fun, healthy and interesting. I can’t seem to find fresh and new ideas and continue making the same tired lunch every day. I want them to be healthy and something that they also look forward to eating each day.
Here are some tips and ideas that I recently learned from Tamara Sims-Dorway, Dietician for the Healthy100 Kids Weight and Wellness Program at Florida Hospital for Children. Let’s help kids keep revved up during the day with healthy lunches to breathe life back in to them.
- First, ask your child what they would like to eat for their lunch. You want to make sure it doesn’t come home uneaten or traded at school.
- Review school menus with your child to decide which days they will eat at school and which days you will pack their lunch. A pizza day every now and then is fine, but most often lunches should include healthy choices.
- Prepare the lunches the night before. You can even prepare cut up veggies on Sunday, put them in baggies and they are ready for each day during the week
- Always include in your child’s lunch a fruit/veggie, protein and a bottle of water.
- Make sure it is packed safely. Include ice packs to keep foods cold. Insulated bags to keep cold and hot foods apart.
- Freeze soups and casseroles in individual portions and pull out the day of.
- Avoid empty calorie sources such as sodas, sugary drinks and energy drinks.
- Make junk foods like cookies, chips and candies once-in-a-while surprise treats, not an everyday expectation.
Lunch tips and ideas:
- Make sandwiches less boring by switching from bread to rolls, wraps, pitas or rye. Sneak in veggies like shredded carrots, spinach leaves and cucumber slices. Use leftover meat or beans from last night’s leftover dinner. Protein is not just meat. It can be hummus, cottage cheese, beans and low fat cheese. Tuna is also delicious on lettuce or as a sandwich.
- Send bagel pieces, mozzarella cheese sticks and a small container of pizza sauce. It’s a build-your-own pizza just like the kits at the store.
- Spread fat free cream cheese over a tortilla or wrap. Add lean meat, seasoning and chopped veggies. It’s a Wrap & Go!
- Salads can be chicken salad on whole wheat crackers, pasta salad, taco salad, fruit salad or green salad.
- Cut up sandwiches in fun shapes.
- Hummus with veggies and crackers
- Send fruit slices and dip in flavored yogurt
- Refried beans with cheese and tortilla chips for dipping
This is just a start to offer some ideas to really make your child’s lunch special. Get creative and include kids in the process. For a special touch, tuck a note inside telling them how much you love them! What a great way to nourish them with nutrition and with your love. To see a recent web chat with more information, click here!