Tips for Packing Healthful Lunch for Your Child
by Patricia Palmisano, Registered Dietitian
As children go back to school, many parents are looking for ways to slip fun yet healthful foods into their child’s lunch. The goal is to pack a lunch that your child may actually eat, rather than swap for something less nutritious.
Here are three simple tips for parents when making that school day lunch: Focus on health, taste, and safety.
- Fresh fruits: They’re nature’s fast food. Dried fruits such as raisins are another option.
- Vegetables: Baby carrots and cucumbers
- Protein: Peanut butter, hard-boiled eggs and lean deli meats
- Grains: Whole-wheat bread or crackers, tortillas and pita bread
- Dairy: Fat-free milk, low fat cheese sticks and low-sugar yogurt
“Parents can even use a knife or cookie cutter to turn sandwiches and vegetables such as cucumbers into fun shapes, making these nutritious foods more desirable to their children,” Palmisano said.
- Add healthful foods to items that children already love. Use apples or bananas when making muffins. Pack slices of pizza topped with vegetables into your child’s lunch. Slip diced apples into that chicken salad sandwich.
- Create healthful trail mix. Mix dry, whole-wheat cereal with raisins, nuts (if there are no allergy or choking problems), pretzels, or even a few chocolate chips.
- Place an ice pack in your child’s lunch bag or keep the lunch in the cooler to keep the food at a safe temperature.
- Remind your children to wash their hands before eating!
Parents can also ask their child what healthful foods they would like in their lunch The more involved kids are in the lunch planning and grocery shopping, the more likely they are to eat the foods they helped select.
Here are some links to recipe ideas:
5 Ways to Pack a Healthier Lunch - from FamilyFun.Go.com
Kid-Friendly Sandwiches - from Parents.com
Brown Bag Lunch Recipes - from BusyCooks.com
Follow these tips, and you can feel good about ensuring that your children are fueled up and ready to learn and grow.
Patricia Palmisano is a registered dietitian and a health promotion supervisor for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.