Packing school lunches for your kids that they want to eat and will give them nutritional value is not always an easy task. It takes time and planning to do it well. You don’t want to just fill your kids’ lunchboxes with pizza and cookies everyday. Consider these tips when packing a nutritious lunch that your children will look forward to eating and you’ll feel good about giving them.
Get Them Involved
- Give your kids multiple healthy food options from each food group and let them make the final decisions on what goes in their lunch.
- Take your child grocery shopping with you so they can be involved in the whole process involved. Allowing them to take part in deciding what to get promotes feelings of responsibility and empowerment.
- Designate a part of your kitchen as the “lunch packing station” and use this space with your kids the night before to get lunch ready for the next day.
Turn Healthy Foods into Fun Foods
- Use cookie cutters to make shapes out of bread, deli meat, cheese, or a melon-baller for fruit.
- Use kid-friendly skewers to make colorful food kebabs.
- Create a theme for the day and have all of the foods in their lunch relate to the theme.
Make Your Own Snacks
Kids rely on snacks to keep their energy up, but the type of snack is important to consider. Try to limit limit processed foods as much as possible. Packaged snacks tend to lack important nutrients and can be high in sugar, sodium and saturated fats. Take control of what is in your kids’ snacks by making them yourself!
Incorporate All Food Groups
A balanced diet includes all of the food groups. There are so many different ways to stay nourished and enjoy each:
- Fruits: fresh, frozen, dried, canned, baked, or pureed.
- Vegetables: fresh, frozen, or baked.
- Lean protein: baked chicken, hard boiled eggs, beans or nuts.
- Low-fat dairy: milk, cheese or yogurt. Lactose-intolerant kids? Try almond, coconut, or soy options!
- Whole Grains: pita, sandwich bread, tortillas, wraps, and pastas.
It’s recommended that school-aged kids drink at least 6-8 cups of water in a moderate activity level day– more if activity level is high.
Allow your child pick out their favorite water bottle and encourage them to drink the whole thing at least twice at school. They’ll be more inclined to do it if they feel like they are completing a challenge!
If plain water is too boring for them, throw in a few pieces of frozen fruit to sweeten it up and keep it cooler.