Healthy Box Lunches for Kids
School is back in session and has been long enough to reestablish itself as the norm rather than something new and different. With the settlement of school back into everyday routine comes some complacency. Putting together children’s lunches is something that easily falls into complacency because parents must contend with pickiness, overall health of the meal, and oftentimes the food’s ability to last until lunchtime without refrigeration. Some tips for building healthy, diverse lunches are listed below to keep lunchtime at school as exciting as the new classroom materials and the after school activities.
Creating a healthy lunch for children is sometimes as easy as a swap of ingredients used. For instance, white bread can be traded for wheat bread, potato chips can be swapped out for baked chips, and apple sauce could be changed with apple slices. Lunch does not need to be complicated; it just needs to offer fuel for your child to make it through the rest of their day just as breakfast fueled their time before lunch. It’s important to consider food categories.
Your child is going to need protein to keep them full and energized for the rest of their time at school. Consider lower sodium meats on sandwiches, slices of rotisserie chicken, and peanut butter. All of these elements carry the protein necessary to keep the mind and body working.
Other pieces of a well-rounded lunch are the fruit and vegetable sections of the food pyramid. Fruits like grapes, pre-packaged apples, citrus, and bananas travel well. Also, it is recommended to eat all daily fruits before 2 o’clock in the afternoon each day due to sugar content in fruit. The body has more time to digest the good sugars when consumed earlier in the day. Vegetables, on the other hand, can be consumed at any point of the day. Baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, and celery are good lunchbox options, and dip or hummus are good compliments for the veggies.
Another category to be considered is dairy. Including string cheese or cheese cubes is an easily portable way of including some dairy in the lunchbox, but, if you want to include something a little sweeter, yogurt is a good option too. Yogurt can be frozen and put into the lunchbox. By lunchtime, the yogurt is defrosted but still cold and creamy rather than warm and runny.
Creating lunchbox meals is easy to do when the food groups and other meals of the day are considered. Think about what your child will have for breakfast, afternoon snack, and dinner and use lunchtime to fill the gaps in the food pyramid. If a grain is needed, make a sandwich using wheat bread. If vegetables are needed, include baby carrots and broccoli with hummus. Whatever is needed for your child to have the necessary nutrients to keep moving, add it to the lunchbox.
Another additive that will cost zero calories but contribute confidence is a lunchtime note. If you know your little one has a math test after lunch, write a message wishing them luck or reminding them the trick they found for multiplication. A note can often go farther than any fruit or vegetable.