It’s back to school time and important for your child to have a nutritious lunch that will help keep them stay focused and satisfied during the school day. Plus, healthy meals have been shown to improve academic performance.
Try to include at least one serving each of fruit, vegetables, protein, dairy, and whole grains. Consider limiting treats like sugar-sweetened beverages, chips, or cookies. Make them an occasional treat, not an everyday option. Don’t forget to add in an ice pack to the lunch bag to keep refrigerated items chilled. Here are a few tips on how to build a better lunch box…
Fruits and Vegetables
Produce is packed full of vital nutrients that will help your child grow and stay healthy. Choose fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors that are filled with vitamins, minerals, and fiber that promote health. Short on time? Consider picking up pre-sliced fruits and vegetables on your next shopping trip. Pair with tex-mex dip, hummus, or guacamole for a satisfying side. If your kids like a crunchy snack, skip the chips and try apple chips that are just as satisfying!
Swap out refined grains and make at least half of the grains in your child’s lunch bag whole grains. Whole grains are rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber to help your child meet their nutritional needs. For sandwiches, try 100% whole grain bread, pita pockets, or flat bread. Peanut butter pinwheels are sure to please hungry kids and whole grain crackers, pasta, or popcorn are great choices too. Add some cereal snack crunch for a savory side or as an after school snack and kids love snack bars, so try this recipe and make your own power bars.
Protein at meals will help keep your child full and focused throughout the school day. Sliced turkey, skinless chicken breasts, eggs, or tuna salad make a wonderful sandwich or wrap. Nuts, nut butter, seeds, beans, and hummus are great vegetarian protein options as well. As a time saver, try making these turkey roll ups the night before for a satisfying lunchtime meal.
Growing kids need 2-3 cups or dairy daily for healthy bones and teeth so be sure to include low-fat and non-fat yogurt, cheese, milk, or calcium-fortified soy milk to your child’s lunch bag. For a tasty, calcium-rich treat, sprinkle granola or fruit on yogurt.
Juice boxes, sports drinks, and soda are loaded with sugar. Water and low-fat milk are the best drinks for your child but if you do pack juice, be sure it’s 100% juice. For more lunchtime ideas, check out Savory’s collection of fun, kid-friendly recipes.