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March 2, 2013

Beyond the Sandwich: Lunchbox Tips for Kids.

G. E. House on Flickr

Does taking lunch to school still conjure up an image of bologna on white bread, potato chips, and a juice box?

We’ve come a long way since the days of Wonder bread!

Children need a well-balanced diet to develop into healthy adults. While many school lunch programs have improved, parents often send their children to school with lunch from home to ensure proper nutrition. While it is important that lunchboxes contain healthy foods, they also need to be appealing and easy to make.

Here are a few suggestions to ensure your child eats a tasty and nutritious lunch.

  1. Keep it simple. You don’t need to use complicated recipes to provide yummy tasting foods.
  2. Keep it fun. Use fun colored plastic (BPA-free) containers to pack school lunch in. Cut sandwiches into bite-sized pieces or use a cookie cutter to cut into fun shapes.
  3. Make it a team effort. Involve your child in making their lunch. It gives them a sense of accomplishment and teaches them how to put together healthy foods for themselves-something that will serve them well in the future.
  4. Use whole-grains. Try new ones like Amaranth or Millet.
  5. Get creative. Sandwiches are great, but what about using a tortilla or pita instead of sandwich bread.

Here are some creative recipes/ideas:

  1. Take a basic PB&J, but put it on a bagel, a pita, or roll it in a tortilla. You can also substitute almond butter instead of peanut butter.
  2. Make pizzas on whole–grain English muffins instead of using dough.
  3. Combine a snack and a sandwich: Pretzel Kebabs. Roll turkey and cheese together, slice, and skewer with pretzel sticks.
  4. Remember how much fun it was to eat breakfast at lunch or dinner? Make a breakfast burrito. Roll up eggs, cheese, and vegetables in a whole wheat tortilla.
  5. Make a kid friendly crudité platter. Use their favorite vegetables (red pepper, cucumber, baby carrots) and serve with homemade hummus.
  6. Try shelled edamame in place of lima beans or peas.
  7. Replace the chips with air-popped popcorn. Season with sea-salt, Herbamare, nutritional yeast, and/or Bragg’s Amino Acids.
  8. Include a smoothie using juice and fruit. You can even throw in a kale leaf or two without affecting the taste.
  9. Substitute coconut water for juice packs.
  10. Low/No sugar yogurt with fruit for dessert instead of candy.

 

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Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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