The school year is starting up again and you’re wondering how you can continue giving your child a healthy lunch when you have to pack one for school. By working with your child to pick out foods they like and are also easy to pack in a lunchbag, you can both be happy. While some kids prefer to bring food from home, others only want to buy lunch. Picking a healthy snack and drink can also be difficult.
If your child brings lunch from home, make sure to include a food that has protein in it to help your child feel full without eating a large portion. You can add protein easily with peanut butter, low-fat cheese, or turkey slices. Incorporate the protein you chose into a meal with these healthy lunch choices:
- A peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread with a piece of fruit and low fat yogurt
- Whole wheat wrap or roll with sliced turkey or roast beef and low fat cheese, and add in some lettuce or pickles for crunch.
- Cold pizza: low fat shredded mozzarella cheese with pizza sauce on a whole wheat tortilla, pita, English muffin, or mini pizza shell
- Cracker sandwiches: whole grain crackers filled with low fat cream cheese or peanut butter and jelly
Picking a snack to pack with your child’s lunch can be difficult. If your child enjoys snack bags or chips, make sure to buy ones that are only 1 serving or buy a large bag and portion out servings into Ziploc bags. Lean towards pretzels, popcorn, or tortilla chips with salsa instead of Doritos, cheese doodles, and potato chips. If your child likes cookies or crackers, try graham crackers or an oatmeal raisin cookie. Instead of buying ice cream, pack your child jello or low fat pudding.
Many parents pack a healthy lunch, but forget to do the same with the drink. Instead of juice, try flavored water. If your child still prefers juice or a fruit drink, try a low sugar version like Capri Sun Roaring Waters or Mott’s for Tot’s juice.
If your child prefers to buy lunch, go over the lunch menu and pick out the healthiest choice for each day. Then in the morning, remind your child which lunch they should buy that day. If they are unhappy with the healthier options on certain days, pack them a lunch those days so they are happy with what they are eating.