Packing Healthy School Lunches

Multi ethnic teens  in kitchen making school lunches. These could be adopted or foster home teens.
Multi ethnic teens in kitchen making school lunches. These could be adopted or foster home teens.

 

It’s that time of year again. The time when stores are filled with first time and veteran parents carrying school supply lists up and down the aisles grabbing pencils, pens, and cartoon character clad notebooks for their young protégés. Whether it’s the first day of kindergarten or the first day of senior year, parents work very hard to get children ready for the first day of school. Part of the parenting process the night before the first day and for many nights following is the preparation of school lunches. For the children, the lunchbox and storage containers matter as they have reputations and personas of cool to protect, but for the parents, it is the food that will be filling their offspring’s tummies that matters most.  That is why we have included some tips to packing healthy school lunches below.

It is always a good idea to reference the ever faithful food pyramid. The first thing to include from the top of the pyramid is a protein. Deli meat slices, boiled eggs, sliced chicken, and peanut butter are examples of good lunch proteins, but keep in mind that your child should be educated on peanut allergies and know not to share that specific food with others in his or her class.

The next section of the pyramid includes dairy options, which are not the most portable of lunch options. Children could be better off indulging in this category during another mealtime at home, but if it must be included at lunch time, then freezing yogurt the night before and including it in the lunchbox is a good option. By the time lunch rolls around, the yogurt is defrosted but is still cold.

Wheats and grains make up the next portion of the food pyramid to consider. Whole wheat bread takes a traditional lunchtime favorite sandwich and adds a health benefit by making a different bread choice. A whole grain wrap could also spice things up and be a healthier lunchbox option than white bread.

The final group to consider is the largest portion of the pyramid and consists of fruits and vegetables. There are numerous options when considering this group for lunchbox additives. Strawberries, bananas, peel-and-eat citrus, blueberries, and many other fruits can be enjoyed at lunchtime with little to no worries of spoiling during the time lunch is waiting to be consumed. Vegetables also travel well and can be enjoyed with dips and hummus. Snacks like carrot sticks, broccoli florets, celery slices, and cherry tomatoes are kid friendly and easy to eat. The trickiest part about this portion of the pyramid is picky taste buds.

The most tried and true methods of food consumption like the food pyramid can be the most helpful when making sure that children are consuming the proper amount of protein and nutrients to keep their bodies and minds fueled to learn and grow.