Does anybody remember that one Staples or Office Max commercial where a mom and dad were skipping through the store and riding on the back shopping carts with It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year playing while their kids were dragging their feet behind them? I remember it well because I knew that if that commercial was showing then my summer was practically over! Well guess what, it’s that time of year again and this means that you will be packing school lunches for your kids to take with them to school. I’m going to give you a bunch of great ideas for you to make healthy school lunches for you kids that they will love!
The basic goal when you pack your child’s lunch is to make it nutritious but also fun for them so they eat the entire thing and not throw it away. Here are some tips and facts to achieve that!
- Remember that any meal an 8 year old child eats shouldn’t be over 450 calories so make sure to keep it under that number.
- 60% of kids don’t eat their entire meal in their lunchboxes.
- A high fat lunch can make your child too tired to learn.
- Give your child options when shopping for lunch choices, “Do you want grapes, strawberries or raisins?” for example. If they get to pick what is going to be in their lunchboxes then they are more likely to eat it.
- Cut down on the amount of sugar and trans fat in what you are packing.
- Stay away from the prepackaged lunches like Lunchables. These are loaded with sodium and fat.
- Talk to your child about why you are choosing certain things for them to eat and why they shouldn’t eat things high in trans fat.
- Put their favorite fruits and vegetables in their lunch that way they are more likely to eat it than if you decided to try something new!
- Even if your school is offering healthy options it is still better to pack your child’s lunch. It is healthier and cheaper!
- Plan ahead, nothing is worse that resorting to junk foods because you didn’t have enough time to pack a healthy lunch. Even better pack your child’s lunch the night before.
- Buy brand new reusable containers that are just for lunches. This way you will always have them on hand and are able to pack fruits, veggies, dips and salads easily!
- Make it easy for your child to eat, bite size portions are perfect since kids can just pop them in their mouths and just keep having fun with their friends (that’s all they really want to do at lunch anyways)!
- Keep their lunch colorful! Nothing is more boring than eating a meal consisting of only tan and white.
- Try to make sandwiches fun by using a cookie cutter to make them into different shapes.
- Let your child pick their own lunchbox before the start of the school year.
- Give your son or daughter a little surprise in their lunch by sneaking in some stickers or a note written on a napkin!
There are some tips to achieve a great healthy lunch but what are you actually going to give them to eat? Here are some great ideas for that!
- Tortilla wraps with shredded cheese, chopped chicken, and cut vegetables
- Egg salad, whole-wheat bagel, and fruit
- Whole-grain roll with butter or margarine, 2 hard boiled eggs, and carrot sticks
- 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt, whole-wheat crackers, and fruit
- 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter, whole-grain crackers or bagel, and fruit or vegetables
- 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese or hummus, whole-grain crackers, and cherry tomatoes
- Bean-based soup or stew in a thermos, whole-grain roll with butter or margarine, and dried fruit
- 1-2 slices leftover thin crust cheese pizza and fruit or vegetables
- Fruit kebabs with apples, pineapple and mini marshmallows
- Whole-grain breads or crackers
- Peanut and almond butters
- Light canned tuna fish
- Raw vegetables that can be cut into slices
- Encourage the kids to make sandwiches with whole-grain breads or bagels; tortillas; or colorful wraps. Try different sandwich fillings, such as tabouli mixed with feta cheese in a pita pocket, or a veggie burger.
Great healthy ‘fun’ foods for kids
- Baked potato chips
- Homemade toasted pita bread chips
- Trail mix or raisins
- Whole-grain cereal
- Nuts or soy nuts
- A smattering of chocolate chips
- Sunflower seeds
- Graham crackers
- Fig bars
- Low in sugar jello or pudding
There are some great ideas for when you start having to make your child’s lunch! Just remember to keep it healthy but fun at the same time!