packing healthy lunches

We all know that a well balanced meal is essential for focus, so why do we trust our kids to fend for themselves in the school cafeteria? Packing a lunch is one way to ensure that your child will have a nutritious mid-day meal, and even help mold their eating habits for later years.

With Back-to-School right around the corner, Mike Naples of Zone Delivery USA has compiled some helpful tips for parents on building the best brown bag lunch – starting with tossing the brown bag!

Step 1: Forget the brown bag

It’s better for the environment. Plus, lunch boxes are sturdier, and insulated lunch bags are the best way to keep food fresh throughout the day. Convince the older kids with retro lunch boxes that will go perfectly with their Wayfarers and Rolling Stones T-shirts.

Step 2: Pick Your Protein

Sandwiches can be an excellent source of protein. Branch out from the Ham and Cheese and PB&J’s to give the kids something to look forward to. Try substituting cashew or almond butter for a healthy variety, or using leftover chicken or roast beef with light mayo, mustard, lettuce, and a slice of cheese. Also, we all know that substituting wraps for carb-laden slices of bread is a great way to cut back, so introduce this to the kids while they still have an attraction to “tube-shaped” food.


Step 3: Substitute Sides

Most kids think their lunch is incomplete without a bag of chips, but the salty processed snack food won’t help them get through the day with enough energy left for soccer practice. Try some healthy alternatives like sending a salad in a small container, packing string cheese with whole grain crackers, making a fruit salad, including dried fruit and nuts, or sending crunchy carrots with a small container of veggie dip.

Step 4: Skip the Soda

Many parents pack the lunch and leave a dollar or two or their kids to get a drink in the cafeteria. According to the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) drinking too much soda, flavored drinks, or even juice can contribute to cavities, childhood obesity, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems. Try freezing a small bottle of water and including it instead – most children don’t drink enough water, and the frozen bottle will help keep the rest of the lunch cold until midday.

Step 5: Sweet Stuff

You know they’ll be angry if they get through digging and don’t find a dessert. Pay close attention to portion size and think about subbing trail mix, dried fruit, granola bars, Jell-O, or low-fat pudding for that pre-packaged row of Oreos.

Step 6: Snack Attack

Growing kids seem to be hungry all the time, so why do we think that one meal at noon is enough to keep them going through all their after-school activities? Pack snacks like granola bars, crackers and peanut butter, trail mix or “Ants on a Log” for the 3PM energy drop.

1 comment:

  1. -Don't forget the a thermos! There are great wide mouth, bowl-like thermoses that can pack pasta, soup, mac& cheese, rice.. even leftovers. My kids use theirs at least twice a week and LOVE them.

    -It is WAY cheaper to buy boxes of crackers, cookies, chips, pretzels, etc and subdivide them into snack size ziplocs then to buy pre-packaged snacks. And there are lots of less evil alternatives to oreos (although, seriously, an oreo or two will not kill them.. it's portion control) but try animal crackers, teddy grahams, nilla wafers, ritz, cheezits, etc. I toss a bunch of snack bags in a bowl and my kids get to choose one thing from the "snack bucket" for their lunch themselves.

    -I actually find that less is more. Too much stuff in the lunch box means they won't eat it all.. they don't eat any more at school than they do at home... and at school they are chattering away, anxious to get to the playground, etc. Too much food in the box is overwhelming.

    -Target & other stores have lots of cute options these days.. lunch boxes that look like purses, etc for older kids.

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