What should you pack?
Children's input should be the first ingredient. Children who help select and prepare their meals tend to make better choices. You may need to establish some ground rules for what goes into the lunch first. Talk to them about what they like to eat and take them with you on your next trip to the grocery store. Prepackaged lunches for kids are popular and convenient, but they're also expensive and can be less than nutritious. Instead, create your own packable lunch using healthier ingredients.
Here are some of our favorite lunches to get you started.
Spice up your typical sandwiches by using different whole grain products instead of plain white bread: Different breads (9-grain, whole-wheat, spelt, kamut, sourdough)
* Rice cakes
* Plain or flavored bagels
* Whole-wheat buns
* English muffins
* Matzo crackers
* Pita bread
Dress up plain pita bread by trying something new.
Pita Pizza: Spread low-fat ricotta cheese in the inside of the pita. Then stuff sliced tomatoes (or any type of pizza toppings) and any leftover cooked meat into the pita. Drizzle with marinara sauce and top off with low-fat mozzarella.
Stir-fry Pita: Mix steamed rice, mixed vegetables, and leftover meat with teriyaki sauce. Then stuff teriyaki mixture into pita.
Wraps and More
The possibilities for making a healthy lunch with wraps are endless. There are many flavors of wraps now available at your local grocery store. These balanced, nutritious wrap ideas can be eaten cold:
* Peanut butter roll-ups
* Ham and cheese wrap
* Fajita roll-up
* Turkey and cranberry wrap
* Pizza rolls
* Chicken quesadilla
* Crunchy vegetable and hummus wrap
During cold weather, pack a soup lunch that will bring the flush back to your child's cheeks. To keep the soup hot until lunchtime, first warm up any leftover soup, then pour into a Thermos®. Pack a small roll of bread or some crackers to go along with this hot lunch. Opt for broth based soups such as chicken noodle or vegetable to avoid excess calories.
Safe Food Handling Tips for Lunches and Snacks
It is especially important to take extra precautions and practice safe food handling when packing a school lunch. If lunches are not refrigerated, they provide the perfect environment for bacteria in food to multiply rapidly and cause foodborne illness. Follow the suggestions below to avoid foodborne illnesses:
* Encourage children to wash their hands before eating!
* Include a package of moist towelettes in case soap and water is not accessible.
* Use an insulated lunch bag with a commercial ice pack. Sandwiches with meat and cheese fillings will stay cool, tasty and safe.
* Teach your youngsters to keep their lunch bags out of the direct sun.
* Use a chilled Thermos® to keep milk, juice or other perishables cold.
* Add a box of 100% fruit juice or cup of yogurt that has been frozen overnight. By lunchtime, they will be defrosted and will help keep the other foods cool.
* Include foods that do not need refrigeration like peanut butter sandwiches, whole grain crackers, dried fruit, fresh fruit, granola bars and unopened cans of pudding.
* Wash fruits and vegetables before packing into the lunch bag.
* Wash insulated lunch bags after every use.
Healthy School Lunches
Many people skip the option to make their kids bring their own lunches to school. They reason that they already have too many things to do without having to worry about what foods to pack for their kids. However, with the health issues that kids are threatened with today, having kids bring their own lunches to school is no longer an option but a must. This is one of way of taking control of the situation and safeguarding your kids from the adverse effects of eating junk foods.
healthy whole foods lunch ideas
- Leftovers from last night’s dinner can be quickly packed in a thermos. Fill the thermos first with hot water to ensure the meal stays warm through lunch time. Here are some favorites to try:
- Your family’s favorite casserole.
- Salmon, veggies, and brown rice.
- Chicken, veggies, and brown rice.
- Chili and rice or whole grain crackers.
- Stir-fry and brown rice.
- Soup in a thermos with whole grain crackers. Kids especially love:
- Chicken noodle soup.
- Vegetable soup.
- Minestrone soup.
- Tomato soup.
- Yogurt, fruit, granola, and nuts.
- Cottage cheese and fruit.
- Chicken and bean burrito on a whole grain tortilla.
- Pita bread stuffed with hummus, sprouts, and tomato.
- Guacamole and blue corn chips.
- Turkey sandwich on whole grain bread.
- Vegetarian BLT sandwich (use veggie bacon).
- Almond butter, bananas, and a dash of honey on whole wheat bread.
- Veggie burger.
- Whole grain bagel and cream cheese.
- Vegetables should always be included. Here are a few favorites:
- Carrot sticks.
- Celery (add almond butter, or cream cheese, and raisins).
- Snap peas.
- Edamame (soy beans).
- Broccoli and ranch to dip it in.
- Sprouts can be added to sandwiches.
- Smear avocados on sandwiches for essential fats.
- Red pepper slices.
- Whole grain crackers are a great source of protein and fiber. Pair them with:
- White cheese or cream cheese (yellow cheese is high in saturated fat).
- Hard boiled eggs.
- Nitrite free lunch meat.
- Nut butters like cashew and almond butter. (Peanuts are highly allergenic, try to rotate your nut butters to prevent allergy).
- Nuts are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and fat. Try to do raw nuts if possible:
- Mixed nuts.
- Trail Mix.
- Fruit is always a school lunch favorite. Here are a few that pack well:
- Dried blueberries, apricots, pineapple rings, or other favorite dried fruit.
- Water, rice milk, soy milk, or 2% cow milk. Kids don’t need juice