How to Create Healthy Lunches for Your Kids
The brand new school year is almost here, which means that you’re likely going to be getting up a little bit earlier, packing lunches for your little ones again. Although this task seems like it should be relatively easy, the reality is that it isn’t always. Their little taste buds can get tired of the same old foods rather quickly and when you’re trying to create a lunch that is healthy yet tasty, their finicky eating may put you to the test.
Sometimes it may seem less stressful to just send them to school with lunch money and hope for the best, but this isn’t the greatest option. A large number of cafeterias offer not-so-healthy choices such as pizza, fries, and candy bars, making it near impossible for your pride and joy to make a healthy food choice. So, what can you do?
Here are a few different ideas as to how to create a healthy lunch that is as pleasing to their healthy growth process as it is to their mouth:
1 – Choose a Main Dish that Has Both Carbs and Protein
Ideally, you want to keep their blood sugar stable for a long period of time. This will help them get through the afternoon without getting hungry, turning hyper, or feeling like they’d rather nap. Some great carb and protein lunch ideas to consider include:
Peanut butter and jelly on a whole wheat English muffin (or use whole wheat bread and cut it with SlimPlate’s portion cutter)
Homemade baked chicken tenders and thick cut potato wedges (they won’t mind that they’re cold)
DIY pizza (send them with a whole wheat muffin and a little container each of pizza sauce and shredded low-fat cheese so they can have fun assembling it themselves)
2 – Pack a Vegetable
Admittedly, this can be a difficult task, especially if your child isn’t too fond of veggies. However, since this food group packs an awful lot of vitamins and minerals into their diet, as well as a decent amount of fiber, they’re necessary for a healthy lunch.
First off, you want to choose a vegetable that they’ll eat. If you don’t, they’ll likely just throw it away without even telling you, making it a waste of time and money.
It may help to take them grocery shopping with you so they can pick out the ones they like. When they are more involved in the process, they are more likely to actually eat it when it is in their lunch sack at school.
One great option is to cook kale leaves in the oven until they are crispy and then top them with a little bit of sea salt. They taste very similar to potato chips, yet they don’t contain all of the fat and unhealthy nutrients.
3 – Include a Healthy “Dessert”
Kids are just like adults in that they often like to have something sweet to end their meal. Certainly, you don’t want to pack high-fat and high-calorie desserts like cakes and cookies into every lunch, but you can still satisfy their sweet tooth nonetheless.
Fruit is a great addition to their lunch box as it tastes good yet is good for them. Apples are easy as are bananas since they can eat them with no prep work on your part, or you can cut up a melon or some grapes and send them in a little cup. This gives them a well-rounded meal without adding a lot of unnecessary fat or calories.
4 – Treats Are Okay Occasionally Too
Just because your focus is on providing your child with a healthy meal to sustain them during the school day, that doesn’t mean that they can’t have a treat in their lunch every now and again. The key is to keep the portion sizes in check so they don’t eat too much of them.
Here are a couple of options as recommended by the SlimPlate System that will make them smile when they open up their sack (most of these are actually half-sizes since they are going into half-bodies):
1 cookie (cut with a SlimPlate cutter so it is a healthier size)
2 Mini Reese’s
One Hershey’s Reese’s stick wafer bar
16 pieces Reese’s Pieces
1/2 of a Hershey’s chocolate bar
2 pieces Hershey’s Simple Pleasures
5 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Drops
Creating a healthy lunch for your kids doesn’t have to be hard and, as long as you follow the SlimPlate System guidelines, it isn’t.
What are some healthy things you like to pack in your child’s lunches? How do you get them excited about nutritious food?