Packing a Healthy Lunch for Kids
Nutritious Lunch Ideas
Talk with your children about their favorite healthy foods and be sure to keep them on hand as often as possible. If healthy food is easily accessible at home, your children are more likely to want a homemade lunch, or even to pack their own.
Here are some ideas:
- Packages of precut vegetables, like celery or carrots, and finger fruits like grapes are great for midday and after-school snacks. Cherry tomatoes, sliced green and yellow peppers, and cauliflower are excellent options too. You might consider making a special yogurt-based dip together to spice things up. There are so many delicious fruits and vegetables -- insist that your children eat (not just bring) one serving a day in their school lunch.
- Granola bars are another nutritious snack, especially for kids who play sports after school. Look for a bar with under 200 calories and lots of grains.
- Homemade pasta and vegetable salads make a satisfying lunch. Make a large batch over the weekend and store it in several small plastic storage containers so they're easy to grab on the way out the door. Dress the salad with a light Italian dressing, or fat-free mayonnaise, or even a tomato-based sauce. These salads can also make a light dinner on busy school nights.
- Sandwiches are an easy standby. Tuna or chicken salad is easy to whip up the evening before, and you can vary the salad by adding red onions, celery, or dried cranberries.
- Deli meats are also an easy sandwich solution. Keep good mustard and cheese on hand, and perhaps some roasted red peppers or pickles to add some heft to the sandwich.
- Remember to buy whole wheat bread for sandwiches -- it's the healthiest option available.
- Avoid buying potato chips, canned sodas, packaged cookies and desserts, and other sugary or fatty snacks.
- Coach your children on portion sizes. If they insist on taking dessert, for example, give them two or three cookies, not four or five.
- Find low-fat alternatives to high-fat foods. Pretzels and Smart Food popcorn are delicious and healthy alternatives to potato chips.