Packing a nutritious and kid-friendly school lunch can be a challenge for busy parents. For many children, lunchtime is the most important meal of the day, so it’s crucial to make sure that their lunch options are healthy and tasty. Fortunately, there are plenty of healthy and delicious options for school lunches that are sure to please even the pickiest of eaters.
Make it Balanced
A balanced lunch should include a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Carbohydrates provide energy, proteins help build and repair muscles, and healthy fats help the body absorb vitamins. A balanced lunch can be as simple as a grilled cheese sandwich with some fresh fruit and veggies. Or, you can get creative and make something like a wrap with hummus, cucumber, and sprouts or a quesadilla with black beans, cheese, and corn.
Include Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber that help keep your child healthy. Try to include at least one fruit or vegetable in every school lunch. If your child isn’t a fan of raw fruits and vegetables, try roasting them in the oven with a little olive oil and salt. Or, make it fun by cutting them into fun shapes with a cookie cutter. Adding a dip like hummus or yogurt can also make them more appealing.
Go for Whole Grains
Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. When packing a school lunch, try to include whole grain breads, pastas, and crackers. If your child is a fan of sandwiches, opt for whole wheat or multi-grain bread instead of white. You can also pack oatmeal, quinoa, or brown rice as a side dish. If your child is a picky eater, try adding some protein or healthy fats to make it more appealing.
Pack Healthy Snacks
Snacks are an important part of a healthy school lunch. They provide an energy boost in the middle of the day and can help keep your child full until the end of the school day. Try packing some healthy snacks like nuts, seeds, dried fruit, or yogurt. You can also make your own trail mix with nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and dark chocolate chips. Or, try packing some homemade energy bars or whole grain muffins.
Include a Protein
Protein is an essential part of a healthy school lunch; it helps build and repair muscle, and keeps your child feeling full for longer. Try adding some lean proteins like chicken, turkey, fish, or eggs. Or, you can opt for plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, and tofu. If your child isn’t a fan of meat, try adding some nuts, seeds, or nut butter to their lunch.
Make it Fun
Making school lunches fun can help encourage kids to actually eat them. Try packing their favorite foods in fun shapes or sizes. You can also make bento boxes with different compartments for different food items. Or, let your kids help pack their lunches; they’ll be more likely to eat something they’ve picked out themselves. Letting them pick out their own lunch boxes and containers can also make lunchtime more exciting.
Pack Healthy Drinks
Staying hydrated is just as important as eating a balanced lunch. Try to pack healthy drinks like milk, water, or 100% fruit juice. If your child loves sugary drinks, try mixing some juice with sparkling water to make it more refreshing. Or, you can make your own flavored water by adding some fruit or herbs to a pitcher of water.
Pack Healthy Leftovers
If you’re pressed for time, packing leftovers from dinner is an easy way to provide a nutritious school lunch. Try packing some lean proteins like chicken or fish, along with some roasted veggies or a salad. Or, make a wrap with some leftover rice and beans. If your child isn’t a fan of leftovers, try adding some healthy toppings like cheese, avocado, or salsa.
Packing a healthy and kid-friendly school lunch doesn’t have to be a challenge. With a little planning and creativity, you can make sure that your child has a nutritious and delicious lunch every day. Try to include a mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Make sure to include lots of fruits and vegetables, and opt for whole grains when possible. Packing healthy snacks and drinks can also help keep your child energized and full until the end of the day.