Back to School Lunches
Packing your child’s lunch doesn’t need to be something you dread. With a little bit of planning you can make your life easier, and your child’s healthier. Each day aim to have their lunch contain the following items, a lean protein, a serving of calcium, a whole grain, and a fruit or vegetable. It may sound complicated but putting together the pieces is easier than you think!
- Proteins help build and repair muscles. By choosing lean varieties your children can get the health benefits of protein without the excess saturated fat found in some meats. Chicken, turkey, tuna fish, eggs, beans and nut butters all contain lean protein.
- Calcium is needed to maintain strong bones and is often lacking in children’s diets. A low fat yogurt, a slice of low fat cheese or an 8 ounce serving of skim milk (instead of juice or soda) will help your child meet their calcium requirement for the day.
- Whole grains provide many needed vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. Whole wheat breads, pasta and crackers, and brown rice are all good choices.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables are a tasty, low-calorie way to meet nutrient needs. Baby carrots, broccoli florets, apple slices, berries and bananas are easy to pack in lunches and can be served with low fat dressings or yogurt dips.
Putting It All Together
Brainstorm a list of lunch ideas your child will enjoy and use it to make a grocery list. Having healthy foods on hand is half the battle. Try and think outside the box. You don’t always have to pack a sandwich; kids enjoy leftovers from dinner, salads, wraps and soups – to name a few. Be sure to get your children involved in the process. They may be willing to try more than you think, or may have ideas from what they see in a peer’s lunchbox. Just remember to pack the combo; lean protein, calcium rich food, whole grain and a fruit or vegetable. Your child will have a healthy, satisfying and delicious meal awaiting them at lunch!