Make back-to-school-lunches count for nutrition
Schools are back in session and that means lunches are being packed. Since lunch should provide one-third of your child’s nutrition for the day – that means protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals - what you include is important for their well-being and growth. Buying the convenient lunch kits are costly and usually full of sodium, sugar and unhealthy fats. Here are some tips for packing up nutrient-dense, kid-pleasing lunches.
Plan and prep ahead
- Pack lunches for everyone – kids and adults alike - after dinner
- Use leftovers from dinner tonight as the base for the brown bag lunch menu tomorrow
Make sure lunch packs a nutritional punch:
- Protein (for growth)– nut butters and nuts, hummus, cheese and Greek yogurt, fish, poultry and lean red meats
- Starch (for carbohydrate energy) – breads, tortillas, rolls, crackers, pasta, rice
- Fruits and vegetables (for fiber, vitamins and minerals) - raw or cooked: apple slices, bunches of grapes, assorted berries, kiwi slices, small bananas, light-packed mandarin oranges and applesauce, pineapple chunks, broccoli and cauliflower florets, cherry tomatoes, celery and zucchini sticks, baby carrots
- Beverages – milk and water are best
Don’t forget food safety:
- Wash out lunchboxes with warm, sudsy water every night
- Chill food prior to storing in the lunchbox
- Use frozen-solid ice packs
Packing lunches from home is an economical and nutritious way to feed your children when they are at school, but it does take some advance planning and prep to have a good outcome. Let your creative juices flow so that kids are excited about lunchtime.
- Rather than a plain peanut butter and jelly sandwich, try almond butter, slivered almonds and dried cranberries on whole-grain tortilla for a flavor-packed roll-up.
- Cold, crunchy cereal with Greek yogurt for protein and seasonal fruit is a favorite.
- Add interesting ingredients to a whole-grain tortilla: hummus, roasted peppers, shredded cheese, sprouts, shredded cabbage, slivered nuts, dried fruits, avocado slices.
- Use a small thermos to store a hearty leftover stew, soup or spaghetti and meatballs.
Try these fun back-to-school recipes: