Back to school time is here! Whether you are sending your children to school, or feeding them while they do school at home, the concept of a healthy lunch remains the same. Need some ideas? Here are some tips for packing a healthy lunch.
1. Focus on “healthy” but keep it familiar. Be sure to include a mix of protein and complex carbohydrates for lunch to help fuel the rest of their day. Protein foods include: nut butter (or alternative), nuts and seeds, beans, meats and meat alternatives, dairy, hard boiled eggs. Complex carbohydrates include: fresh fruits and veggies, whole or sprouted grain crackers, bread, grains and pasta. Some great combos to try would be bell peppers, cucumber, baked pita chips and hummus; carrot sticks and cheese sticks; apple slices and nut/seed butter; rice balls with edamame; fresh veggies and yogurt-based ranch dip. Pay attention to the foods your child likes to eat and be sure to include these in the lunch, limiting sugary foods and sweets.
2. Try adding 1 new food a week into the mix. If your child has never had kiwifruit, slice it and include with strawberries and/or green grapes. Include a different type of cheese on half of a sandwich. Try some cauliflower pretzels instead of regular pretzels. This may not always work, but it might be a fun way to introduce some new foods. As a bonus, this also allows for some conversation later in the day when you ask what they thought of their lunch that day!
3. Make it fun. Cut sandwiches, cheeses and meats into fun shapes using cookie cutters. Serve pinwheels instead of sandwiches, putting sandwich toppings on a tortilla, rolling it up, and slicing it into fun round pinwheels. Include some fun stickers or a note in their lunchbox.
4. Keep it clean. Try to cut out the plastic bags so commonly used. Utilize biodegradable sandwich bags. Find a fun bento box or utilize smaller reusable containers inside the lunchbox to give a bento box feel.