July 24, 2019
Choosing healthy lunch and snack options for your child isn’t always an easy task. We all know that the easy-to-pack options are not usually the healthiest, but it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s why we’ve come up with 5 helpful tips to give you the tools you need to pack your child a nutritious and healthy lunch this school year!
1. Pack Lots of Produce
This tip is a lot easier if you have a child that loves vegetables. However, you can also choose from a variety of fruits if they aren’t a veggie lover. Try to pack at least a ½ cup to 1 cup of fresh fruit and vegetables for your child. This is the best way to give them the vitamins and minerals they’ll need to stay healthy. An easy example would be to include peanut butter with their apple slices for a tasty and nutritious treat.
2. Embrace Lean Proteins
We all know that chicken nuggets are a popular lunch choice for kids, but that option doesn’t give them the lean proteins their body needs. Instead, choose options like turkey and grilled chicken. These lean proteins will help cut down on fat and calorie count. You can find creative ways to include these lean meats in your child’s lunch or snack. Turkey roll-ups and grilled chicken salad are great examples!
3. Choose Whole Grains
According to the American Heart Association, eating whole grains can provide important health benefits including dietary fiber lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke and obesity when your child gets older. It's important to form healthy eating habits now so, as your child grows up, they'll already have these healthy habits when they are on their own. Whole-grains also provide many nutrients which are important for your child’s growing body. Look for whole grains that include ingredients like oatmeal, brown rice, whole-grain corn or barley.
4. Skip the Processed Snacks
Throwing in a bag of chips or cookies might seem like it isn’t a big deal, but if you are doing this every day, then those sodium and sugar numbers start to add up. Replace processed snacks with whole-grain snacks or things like raisins, almonds, and air-popped popcorn.
5. Prepare and Be Consistent
Once you get into the swing of packing healthier lunches and snacks, then you’ll be able to do it with ease. But you have to remember to prepare and be consistent. It’s always easier to prepare the night before and have everything ready to go in the morning. Prep your ingredients and get the containers ready the night before for an easier start the next day. Also, try and be consistent. Once you start packing healthier options, it’ll be easier to keep it going if you stay prepared! Keep a list of recipes on your phone so you can always have a quick go-to when you need it.
Looking for some healthy school lunch recipe ideas? Check out these recipes from the American Heart Association.