The Secret to Better School Lunches
Nutritious and delicious school lunches kids will eat.
Back to school means scrubbed kids carrying shiny new lunch boxes. It also
means stumped moms staring into the fridge, desperately seeking ways to sneak
even a little bit of nutrition into their child's midday meal. "One of the
biggest mistakes parents make is sending too much and the wrong kinds of food
in their child's lunch box," says Elizabeth Ward, author of Healthy
Foods, Healthy Kids. Use your child's fist as a guideline to perfect
An ideal lunch is nutritious and has enough calories to fuel brain and motor
activity but not too many calories, which can cause hyperactive or sluggish
post-lunch behavior. It's time to think beyond two slices of bread.
"Sandwiches are fine for the first few weeks, then the monotony sets in and
you need to get out of the sandwich rut," says Ward. Here are some
kid-approved nutritious favorites.
Don't forget to include a frozen 100% fruit-juice box to keep foods cool
Top a cinnamon-raisin bagel with peanut butter and banana. Add a carton of
yogurt and a few celery sticks.
Throw in kabobs of any type. Thread low-fat meat, low-fat cheese, pineapple and
cherry tomatoes onto a stick. Include whole-grain crackers and a carton of
Try a Tortilla
Spread a low-fat tortilla with egg salad, shredded carrots and cucumber slices.
Toss in a yogurt smoothie made with fruit.
Stuff a pita pocket with fat-free refried beans, shredded cheese, chopped
tomatoes, or salsa. Add a carton of milk and fruit.
Layers of Fun
Make your own parfait. In a tall, clear plastic glass. Include low-fat yogurt,
fresh fruit and a high-fiber, crunchy cereal and trail mix of craisins, nuts
and seeds for a lunchtime treat.
On a Roll
Scoop out a whole-grain roll and fill it with tuna salad made with chopped
apples and celery. Add cheese cubes, baby carrots, and 100% fruit juice.
It's a Wrap
Place a slice of turkey, Swiss cheese, a few leaves of fresh spinach, and
cranberry relish on a colorful wrap -- and then wrap it up! Add a can of tomato
juice and a piece of fresh fruit.
Toss in a single-serve bag of ready-to-eat salad with low-fat dressing, cubes
of lean meat, cheese, and assorted veggies. Team with whole-grain bread sticks
and a carton of low-fat milk.
Pack a Five-Star Lunch
Balance and variety are the keys to packing a lunch kids will love. A healthy
meal consists of an adequate serving of at least three of the following five
food groups for balanced nutrition:
Dairy -- string cheese, cheese cubes, low-fat cottage
cheese, low-fat yogurt, low-fat milk, pudding made with low-fat milk, calcium-
and vitamin D-fortified orange juice.