I know it might seem crazy to discuss back to school lunches...but here in Atlanta kids have already started school. With all the other topics associated with returning to school, “what to pack for lunch?” comes up every year (even for adults). This post is about helping you make healthy choices for your little ones (and even big ones). When meal planning, our overall goal is not only to provide healthy foods to our children, but to create a positive healthy environment around food. And our hope is this will translate into adulthood. I am optimistic that this next generation will ban restrictive dieting and focus on whole foods that will nourish the body. The tips below will provide a general road-map on how to keep your kiddos lunches filled with the right goodies. Remember, what you feed your child throughout the day has a greater impact on their diet and nutrition than a single meal. Which as a mother of two, I know can be a challenge. Check out the tips below. Plus I have included a downloadable pdf for you to use as a guide for snack options. Enjoy!!
I can’t say this enough, engage your children in choosing and if possible preparing their lunch. Children like to feel they are in control of their food choices (and everything really). I bring my boys to the farmer’s market almost weekly. I have them choose their favorite fruit/ veg . Then we go home and cook it. This process will help get their “buy-in”.
Be their role model, children learn by watching. Let’s set the tone for them. If you never eat fruits/vegetable, why should they. Therefore, you should….eat your veggies too!
Sleep is as important as food choices. We all know when we are sleep deprived we have difficulty making good decisions. Our children are no different.
Beverage choices for children should only be water or milk/non-dairy milks. Save the sodas, juices and/or Gatorade for special occasions. If removing juice is a challenge, you can always dilute them with water. Start with ½ juice and ½ water - then progressively increase the water.
Know the School Lunch Options
Read the menus weekly - you can always supplement with food from home. My son gets excited to buy milk from school. Who knew?!
Lunchbots or Bentos make excellent lunch boxes. Perfectly proportioned for children and adults
Lunch totes - let them pick
Reusable snack bags - perfect for sandwiches, snacks fruits/veggies...and safe for the environment!
Water bottle - stainless steel or BPA free is ideal
Your Food Guide
Proteins: beans, tempeh, grilled chicken, hard boiled eggs
Carbohydrates: sweet potatoes, quinoa, wild rice, whole grain pasta, fruits, corn, peas, sprouted breads, graham crackers etc.
Healthy fats: avocados, nuts/nut butters, seeds, hemp seeds, olive oil, homemade salad dressings, grass fed cheese (if available) etc.
Beverages: water, milk/non-dairy milk
Fruits: Anything portable, apples, pears, grapes, strawberries, oranges - let them pick their favorite fruit
Vegetables: Keep cut up veggies, cucumbers, carrots, let them pick their favorite veggie
Need snack ideas? Here is a downloadble pdf for you to use. Need more inspiration? Check out here.