Happy Meals at School
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 portion sizes.
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 until lunchtime.
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
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
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:
-- 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.