Blue Suit Mom

Back To School Means Back To Packing Lunches

By Lauren Schmitt, MS, RD, CPT

As a parent, packing a lunch becomes a battle because we get tired of packing the same foods and we wonder if our child is getting too much, too little or just the right amount of food.  As we head back into the school year, let’s talk about livening up that lunch box and filling it will important nutrients.

Here are some tips that will ease the task quite a bit.

●      Pack Ahead
Don’t leave lunch packing for the morning, it makes breakfast time hectic and may make packing lunch seem like a hassle.  Pack a lunch the night before and keep it in the fridge.

●      Pack Smart
Use lunch boxes and plastic containers to pack food for your child’s lunch.  It will not only help keep foods at the right temperature, but it is also environmentally responsible. When choosing plastic, aim for ones that are BPA-free.

●      Use Leftovers
Have leftovers from dinner? Use them as lunch the next day. This will cut down on any waste from the previous night’s meal and provide your child with a healthy, balanced, already prepared meal!

●      Go Seasonal
Incorporate seasonal items in your child’s lunch.  On a cold winter day pack soup in a thermos, or during the spring, pack a colorful salad using in-season produce.

●      Variety is the Key
Kids who are bored with their lunch will be more likely to throw it out.  Instead of packing a sandwich every day, mix it up.  Give you kids wraps, salads, soup, cheese and crackers, pita and hummus, and other foods to keep it interesting.

●      Ask Your Child for Help
Have your child assist in helping pack their lunch.  With their input, it may create a meal that they are more likely to eat and they had a role in creating.

For a balanced meal, think of dividing the lunch box into sections.  Include an entrée, fruit or vegetable, a beverage and a snack or two.  Some entrée ideas include:

●      Tuna, chicken, turkey or egg salad on 100% whole wheat bread or with a pita

●      Cheese stick wrapped with a corn or whole wheat flour tortilla and salsa to dip

●      Turkey and cheese wrap with lettuce and tomato

●      Whole wheat pasta mixed with cherry tomato and diced cheese

●      Hard boiled egg with whole grain crackers

●      Sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwich (or peanut butter if allowed)

●      Cheese or vegetable pizza

For the fruit and vegetables, fresh is best.  Cut up the product if possible to entice your child to eat it.  But, if the fresh produce keeps coming home uneaten, try boxes of raisins or dried cranberries, fruit crushers, or snack size unsweetened applesauce cups.

For the beverage, include 1 or 2% milk depending on the child’s age, 100% fruit juice box and water.  No matter what, water should always be included and encouraged.  Put it in a fun container to encourage your child to drink it.

Lastly, pack snacks as these help children meet their nutrient needs.  Some great snacks include:

●      Popcorn

●      String cheese

●      Cottage cheese

●      Yogurt squeezers (freeze and they thaw by lunch time)

●      Whole grain pretzel sticks

●      Trail mix

●      Homemade granola bars

●      Cheerios mixed with raisins

●      Homemade banana bread

●      Fruit leathers

●      Edamame

●      Fruit salad

Don’t forget to pack a lunch with love.  Add an encouraging note or small treat to let your child know you are thinking about them during the day!

About the Author

Lauren Schmitt is a registered dietitian, nutritionist, Certified Personal Trainer, and owner of Healthy Eating And Training Inc.  Lauren is also health bloggers for Good Greens, a vegan protein bar company.

Comments are closed.