By Carleton Rivers, MS, RDN, LD
The kids are headed back to class and families are starting to find their school-year rhythm. Make this year count by providing your children with nutritious meals that help to fuel their minds and bodies. Check out the four tips discussed below to help you get on the right track with your child’s school lunch.
If your mornings are jam packed with things to do, you may want to consider packing your child’s lunch the night before. This can also be a great time to have your child learn how to pack his or her own lunch. Be sure to place all perishable foods and drinks in the refrigerator overnight.
Make Food Safe
Because you are sending your child to school with food that may need refrigeration, it is important to keep their food and drinks cold. Pack lunches in insulated lunchboxes along with an ice pack. To save space in the lunchbox, consider packing a frozen water bottle that will act as an ice pack as well as a cool lunchtime refreshment.
Make Lunch Healthy
With so many prepackaged lunch foods on the market today, it can be hard to determine what is best for your child. My advice to you is whenever possible, go with fresh ingredients. Instead of buying a Lunchable, simply pack your child a handful of whole wheat crackers, a few slices of deli meat and a slice of low-fat cheese. This way you can save money and make sure your child is getting fresh ingredients. Besides whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy, you will also want to include a serving of fruits and vegetables in their lunchbox. This could be one apple and a handful of baby carrots, or a side salad with a handful of grapes. When it comes to choosing beverages, water or low-fat milk is the best. Try to avoid packing flavored milk or juice. Even 100 percent fruit juice has loads of sugar in it!
Make with Helpers
When planning your child’s school lunches, it is important to consider what he or she enjoys eating and drinking for lunch. Have your child be a part of the decision-making process. This could also be an ideal time to teach him or her about nutritious meal planning. To make sure that what you send is something that your child will eat, be sure to introduce new foods during meal times at home before including them in school lunches.
Enjoy the video and link below, as well as the resources on the next page, for more helpful resources on healthy lunches.
Healthy Nutrition Videos: http://www.nchpad.org/Videos/PLwMObYmlSHaMYr63HiF0-RQ0S7kYqpjS8