School lunches your child will love.
Packing a healthy lunch for your child doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated. Follow these tips for success and you’ll be on your way to creating lunchtime feasts your child will love.
- Variety: It really is the spice of life. Avoid packing your child the same lunch every day—they’ll tire of it and end up tossing it. Instead, have a toolbox full of tasty ideas that your child likes and rotate accordingly.
- Balance: Make your child’s lunch nutrient-dense by providing a balance of protein, fiber, grains, and calcium.
- Finger Foods: Envision any lunchroom full of children—it’s a noisy, high-energy place full of kids who are eager to get outside for recess. Most kids are distracted during lunch. Provide your child with small items that are easy (and fun) to eat.
- Less is More: Kids can’t eat a lot in one sitting. Provide them with a realistic quantity of food that they are likely to eat.
- Involve your Child: It’s their lunch, after all, so involve them in the process. Let your child help develop the list of lunch foods they like. Have him/her help pack the lunch. Most important—ask them to bring home what they don’t eat rather than throwing it away. This will help you assess what appeals to your child and what doesn’t and adjust accordingly.
- Lighten Up: If you fill your child’s lunchbox with only healthy options, they’re likely to rebel. It’s okay to sneak in a small treat to satisfy their sweet tooth. It beats having them hit the vending machines on the sly!
- Fun: Kids are attracted to pre-packaged lunches because of the fun packaging, shapes, and colors. You can make your lunch just as fun without succumbing to unhealthy processed foods. It’s amazing what a cookie cutter can do to spice up a sandwich.
- Personalize It: Lunch is an opportunity to connect with your child even though you aren’t there. Slip in a special note, a sticker, or a holiday treat. It will brighten their day!
- Roll-ups: Kids get tired of the same old sandwiches. Spice things up a bit by creating a roll-up. Take a flour tortilla and spread with cream cheese, hummus, or guacamole. Add meat and/or veggies. Roll and slice into small pieces. It’s the sushi of sandwiches!
- Ants on a Log: Spread peanut butter (or any type of nut butter) on celery and sprinkle with raisins. For a “ladybug” variation, try dried cranberries instead.
- Yogurt: Look for low-sugar varieties that come individually packaged. Yogurt is easy to eat and kids love it.
- Fruit: Forget those packaged fruit cocktail cups—they’re loaded with extra sugar. Instead, include a piece of fresh fruit that you know your child loves. Often, they’re more likely to eat fruit if it’s sliced, so take an extra moment to slice that apple or orange. Making it easy makes it more likely that your child will bite.
- Popcorn: Make a fresh batch of popcorn and include a small bag in your child’s lunch. They’ll get the satisfaction of that snack-y crunch without the calories and fat from processed chips.
Other snack foods that pack a punch:
- Trail mix
- Dried fruit
- Granola bars
- Rice cakes
- Cheese and crackers
- Baby carrots