Pack a Healthy School Lunch

Family Preparing meal,mealtime Together

If your child brings lunch to school, it can be tempting to fill that lunch bag with quick bags of snacks and goodies that have little nutritional value. Granted, its unlikely your child will be eating a salad with no dressing while her friends enjoy chips and crisps, but you can find school lunch ideas that have some redeeming nutritional value that are realistic for school age children.

Entrée

The main component of a school lunch is the first consideration. Children don’t have access to a microwave to reheat last night’s dinner, but hot food placed into a warm thermos will stay warm until lunch time. This means you can include noodles, soups, stews, and other meat dishes for your child. If she balks at the thermos, simply make her a sandwich on whole wheat bread. Go with peanut butter or a meat, but skip the mayo and opt for a jam rather than jelly.

Fruits and Veggies

The next item in the lunch should be a serving of fruits or vegetables. A bag of baby carrots or celery and cheese is satisfying, but fruits might be the easier item to send. Rather than sending a whole apple that often takes too long to eat, send apple slices or a sliced orange. Throw in a banana or a prepackaged fruit cup in light syrup. A box of raisins is another easy fruit serving you can include.

Snack Food

Almost every child’s lunch includes some form of snack food. Potato crisps, cookies, crackers or other treats sneak into lunches constantly. If your child insists on a snack like food, find one that is at least fortified with vitamins or made with whole grains. Whole grain gold fish crackers are a good option as are fruit snacks made from juice. Skip the snack cakes and crisps as they have no value what so ever.

Drink

There are a few options for a drink with lunch. Some children buy milk to accompany their lunch and others prefer to skip the lunch line entirely and bring a drink from home. Find a juice box that contains only real fruit juices or include a small bottle of water. Many of the more popular lunchbox drinks are almost entirely sugar and water, so work with your child to find a healthier alternative. Soda should be skipped all together.

Get Help

Even if your child is still in nursery school, it’s likely she has very set opinions about what goes into her lunch every day. Lay out the healthy options you’ve prepared and let her pick a few items for her meal every day. By selecting her own lunch (from your preapproved options), she is far more likely to be satisfied with the food. If she likes her meal, she’ll eat it giving her optimum energy for the rest of the school day.

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