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healthy-lunches

How to make the perfect lunchbox in 5 steps

It’s back to school season! That means your kids go back to a routine which includes packing school lunch.  In August we celebrate #kidseatrightmonth which focuses on healthy eating for children and the entire family.  Most of us think that homemade lunches are inherently healthier and superior quality than school lunches.  However, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found just the opposite: packed lunches had fewer fruits and vegetables, more fat, sodium and calories. In fact, many of these lunches included chips, desserts and sweetened beverages.

This school year TEACH your kids how to pack a healthy lunchbox. Kids who are involved in making their own lunch are more likely to eat it, makes sense! Follow these 5 easy steps and learn how to pack an All-Star school lunch:

1. Start with Whole Grains:  Most of us think school lunches and we think of boring sandwiches. Go outside the box and think of a de-constructed sandwich or even picnic style by including crackers or whole grain chips. Include high fiber grains such as:

  • Whole Wheat Pita Bread
  • Multigrain English Muffin
  • High Fiber Cereal
  • Whole Wheat Waffles
  • Tortilla Chips

2. Include a Protein: Protein is key to include in your kids lunch boxes because it helps curve appetite and lessen the sense of hunger most kids feel after school. Plus, foods high in protein help with muscle and bone growth. Consider adding non-animal based proteins at least once a week such as legumes, nuts or tofu.  Try these options as well: 

  • Salmon patties
  • Hummus or Bean dip
  • Cheese string
  • Mozzarella balls
  • Tuna Sandwich
  • Ham and Cheese rolls

3. Add a Fruit:   Nobody likes to eat a mushy banana! Instead include fruit that is both easy to grab and eat. Many kids don’t have a lot of time to eat.  So, including fruit in small pieces will save time and ensure your kids actually eat it. Dried fruit is a good alternative because its easy to carry and kids can eat it as an after school snack. Good options include:

  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Dried apricots
  • Applesauce
  • Tangerine
  • Apple slices.

healthy-lunches

4. Don’t forget the Veggies: Many parent’s stress or forget the vegetables.  Veggies are so important to include in your child’s lunchbox because they are loaded with fiber, water and vital vitamins. Children are constantly growing and constantly hungry.  The fiber and water in vegetables will help children feel fuller longer. If your child is not a fan of veggies, start first by introducing them at home before you introduce them in the lunchbox.  Try spicing up the flavor by adding a dip like hummus, yogurt, or low fat ranch.  Make sure to include finger food veggies that are easy to grab and won’t create a lot of mess. Try these finger food veggies:

  • Baby carrots with hummus
  • Celery sticks with nut butter (sunflower/cashew butter)
  • Red peppers with yogurt dip
  • Cherry Tomatoes and Mozzarella sticks

5. Make it special by adding a fun food. Yes, school lunches can be fun! Add a special food that your kids enjoy a few times a week. I firmly believe in balance, so including a healthy treat once in a while will not be the end of the world.  Instead,you will teach your children from an early age the importance of balance and enjoying food.   Try these ideas:

One Mini dark chocolate

  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Chocolate covered almonds
  • Graham crackers

Wishing everyone a healthy start of the school year!  Help your child reach his/her full potential by ensuring they receive a healthy lunchbox.

 

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