When you're busy getting kids ready for school in the morning, a healthy school lunch can get lost in the shuffle. You may think your child's lunch rates an "A," when in reality, it doesn't make the grade.
Yet a few simple changes can turn lackluster school lunches into healthy midday meals your child will actually eat.
By Francesca L. Kritz
Consult Your Doctor
One night a few summers ago, when my 18-month-old daughter's mosquito bites
were making her itchy, cranky, and sleepless, I went to a 24-hour pharmacy to
buy antihistamine. It wasn't until I got home that I read the package
instructions: for children under 6, consult physician. By then it was after
10:00 p.m., and I didn't want to bother her doctor. So I guessed and gave Dina
a teaspoonful. As it turns out, the amount was right, but that...
"Parents can pack the 'perfect' meal, but if their child won't eat it, it's not right for them," says Sandra Nissenberg, MS, RD, author of Brown Bag Success: Making Healthy Lunches Your Kids Won't Trade.
To make sure your kids eat the school lunch they take, have a talk. Find out their food preferences: what they need and when they need it. For example, what's best for the morning snack? Or the afternoon pick-me-up? Then think outside the lunch box with these mealtime tips from the nutrition experts.
Banish Bread Boredom. Trade your child's typical bread choice for:
Mini or full-size bagels
Colorful sandwich wraps
Whole-grain hot dog or hamburger buns, or whole-grain white versions
Focus on Fillings. Tantalize taste buds by infusing interest into ordinary sandwiches:
Stir chopped celery, cashews, or water chestnuts into tuna or chicken salad.
Spread cranberry sauce on sliced, cooked turkey or chicken.
Add shredded carrots or dried fruit to any nut butter or sunflower seed butter sandwich on whole-grain bread.
Spread a whole-wheat tortilla with hummus; add a tablespoon or two of tabouli; and sprinkle with reduced-fat feta cheese and chopped cherry tomatoes.
Try a banana "hot dog": Pack a whole-grain hot dog bun spread with almond butter or sunflower seed butter, and a medium banana. Just before eating, your child can peel the banana and place it in the bun for eating.
Search for Sandwich Alternatives: No sandwich? No problem. These combinations get high marks as balanced meals.