School lunch can be a huge struggle. Parents go to great effort to pack a healthy lunch, while children just want a lunch they love. It is easy to assume that the meal that is sent to school, will be heartily consumed. In reality, what tends to return home is either a picked through or untouched box of food. Children return home starved and grab the first thing they see. This sets off the never ending cycle of unhealthy after school snacking followed by poor intake at dinner. Follow these easy and tasty lunch box tips for a portable meal the children will be excited to gobble down.
Make lunchbox selection a family affair
Whenever possible, involve children in food shopping. ?Letting children make some of the decisions will increase the likelihood they will eat their lunch. Steer them towards healthy food on the perimeter of the grocery store. ?Encourage children to try new things. The brightly colored produce section will become as enticing as the candy aisle if parents act as role models to good nutritious choices.
Read food labels
Beware of food and snacks that are labeled fat free. Most are deceptively high in sugar to add taste and texture. If sugar or white flour appear one of the first five ingredients, reselect a different product.
Buy a fun lunch kit
Allow children to choose their own lunch boxes. Purchase colorful utensils and napkins to add to the appeal of eating a packed lunch.
Don’t drink sugar for lunch
Pack water in place of sugary juice whenever possible. Water is available in small, lunch box friendly 8 fl oz bottles. If your child does not drink water, pack 100% fruit juice, not sugary fruit drinks.? Fruit slices such as orange and lemon can be floated in water bottles to add flavor without added sugar. Milk and 100% fruit juice can also be purchased in the school cafeteria.
Put a delicious twist on lunchtime favorites
- Use large cookie cutters to cut bread into shapes. Top with nut butters, lean meat or cheese.
- Pin wheels – Top whole grain tortillas with nut butters or lean meat/cheese. Roll and cut into pin wheels.
- Use a thermos- Heat soup, leftovers, macaroni ‘n cheese and stew in the microwave before school. Pour into an insulated thermos.
- Use colorful veggie wraps in place of bread- Fill with child’s favorite ingredients, top with veggies and low fat dressing. Wrap and go.
- Grab and go selections- Vida180 offers many easy to prepare grab and go recipes.
- Vegetable slices-? Serve with hummus or low fat salad dressing.
- Fruit- Cut up favorite fruit and serve with yogurt as a dip.
- Healthy snack and dessert options- Low sugar granola bars, fruit canned in own juice, yogurt, nuts, baked chips, pretzels and wholegrain crackers are all great choices.
These and other Dietitian approved tips are now available on Vida180. Eat delicious meals and lose weight!