As back-to-school tips, tricks, and messages rev-up for the start of a new school year, moms across the country are beginning to think of ways to make this year’s packed lunches the best yet. However, packing a healthy and yummy lunch can be challenging. The best way to ensure your kids will each their lunch and not trade it for a pack of cookies is to get them involved in the planning process.
A balanced school lunch will set your kids up for success. Multiple studies show that when kids eat a healthy lunch, they are able to focus better and have more energy throughout the day. Some studies even show higher test scores in children who eat lunches packed with more nutrition. Additionally, with the rise in childhood obesity rates, healthy lunches have a big impact on kids’ long-term health.
Getting Started: Packing Healthy School Lunches
Set Yourself up for Success: Make sure you have the necessities. For example: Invest in a great lunchbox that your kid loves, a thermos, and plenty of food storage containers in different sizes. If your child gets a new water bottle, they are more likely to fill it with water and skip the fruit punch. The right containers can inspire you to pack the foods they need in the right portions. For example, if you want to pack a salad, the right container can make all the ingredients fit perfectly while saving you time and stress. Spend those few extra dollars on the necessities to make lunchtime easier to prepare for.
Beyond the Basics: We all know about sandwiches, fruit, and yogurt, but what are other options that can get your kids to eat healthy? Add one or two of the following to their lunchbox.
- Build Your Own: Whole grain crackers and pepperoni; taco meat with cheese and a tortilla
- Sensational Salads: Lettuce salad with grilled meat; pasta salad with chicken
- Keeping it Warm: Fill a thermos with chili or soup from last night’s dinner
- Meatless Marvels: Cottage cheese and fruit; cheese quesadillas; peanut butter and crackers
Add Sensible Sides: These can work with any entree. Let your kids decide!
- Peppers and hummus
- Low-fat yogurt
- Applesauce with no sugar added
- Blueberries, strawberries, pears, raspberries
- A banana
- Whole grain crackers
- Pasta salad
- Dried fruit
- Baked chips
- Sliced cucumbers and dip
- Walnuts or almonds
- Avocado slices
- Animal or graham crackers
- Side salad
- Cottage cheese
- Last night’s dinner veggies
Putting it All Together
Set Yourself up For Success: Prepack lunches the evening before. Ask your kids to help choose foods and pack their own lunch.
Weekend Preparation: Use the extra time on the weekend to plan ahead. Pre-cut fruits and veggies and individually package them to make lunch assembly easy. Take time to shop for what you need during the week to make your week a little less hectic.
Get Your kids Involved: Ask your kids what they prefer. Many times, they come up with food ideas they will actually eat and love.
Get ready for a new school year filled with tasty food and great nutrition!