Posted on by Paula Gallagher
We all want healthy meals for our children – but in a busy world, achieving this is sometimes easier said than done. Many of us reach for those pre-made lunch kits found in every grocery store, and while convenient, these kits are often not healthy choices. One popular lunch kit has a whopping 1,940 mg of sodium, well above the daily maximum recommended for young children (1,200 mg). With only one gram of fiber, this meal won’t go far toward meeting many of your children's dietary needs, or even give them the energy they need for a long school day.
Tips for Healthy School Lunches
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. Sliced cucumbers, carrot sticks and sliced bell peppers pack well and offer a variety of nutrients.
- Pack leftovers from dinner in a thermos.
- A source of protein: meat, eggs, beans, legumes, tofu, or seeds.
- Whole grain bread, pasta, rice, oatmeal, or couscous.
- Water. Skip the juice boxes and pack a reusable water bottle. It will save your money and also is better for the environment. Not too mention, that you won’t be adding unnecessary sugar to your child’s day.
Ideas for a Week-Long School Lunch Menu
Here is a week's menu to help with some ideas. Keep in mind that you can add more if your child needs more food. Use this as a guideline and make substitutions anywhere you (or your child) likes. 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 of 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 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
- Granola • 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.
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