The Secret to Better School Lunches
Nutritious and delicious school lunches kids will eat.
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.
Fruit -- fresh fruit such as orange segments, grapes,
strawberries, blueberries, pears, apples, dried fruit, 100% juice boxes, canned
fruit cups in juice.
Vegetables -- baby carrots, grape tomatoes, celery sticks,
salsa, tomato juice, red bell peppers, broccoli.
Whole grains -- whole-grain breads, tortillas, wraps,
Lean protein -- beans, nuts, seeds, turkey, chicken, tuna,
lean lunch meat, peanut butter, veggie burgers, bean salad, hummus.
Think variety when packing school lunches. Children will delight to find a
variety of their favorite foods in their lunch boxes. Kids love foods that are
a surprise and stimulate the appetite. Make things interesting by packing a
theme-based lunch based on a subject your child is studying in school. Shape
sandwiches with cookie cutters to add interest. Anything they can dip makes
eating more fun for kids, including fruit and veggies into yogurt, low-fat
dressing, or salsa. Remember that we eat with our eyes. Food has to look as
good as it tastes to get past your child's mouth. Prepackaged deli meals and
snacks are convenient but are often loaded with sodium, fat, and sugar. Reserve
these for occasional treats. Small portions of "extras" such as plain
cookies, graham crackers, baked chips, or bite-size candy bars are perfectly
fine additions that kids love. Low-fat chocolate milk has extra sugar but
contains other valuable nutrients that can contribute to a nutritious meal.
Take a Food Field Trip
One way to increase the odds that kids will actually eat and enjoy a nutritious
noon meal is to take Junior to the grocery store with you and together decide
what should go into the lunchbox. Keep in mind that "F" is for both
food and fun when it comes to school lunches to help make sure your kid gets an
A in nutrition.