What’s for lunch, Mom?
Convincing kids to eat lunches that are good for them can sometimes be a challenge, but given the rising rates of obesity amongst children today, providing healthy meal options is vital. And don’t forget that lunchbox fare is every bit as important as the meals you serve at home. Just because it’s packaged up and sent off to school, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be—or can’t be—every bit as healthy as what goes on your dinner table at home. Food is fuel for the mind after all!
We’ve compiled some clever tips and recipe ideas that may help ease some of the mealtime blues and get your kids happily munching away on fresh, delicious, affordable lunches.
Picky Eating Central offers these suggestions for good-for-you lunchbox food:
- Swap out white bread for whole grain bread or, even better, sprouted-grain bread like Food For Life’s 7 Sprouted Grains. The proteins and carbohydrates in sprouted-grain breads are easier to digest, and the vitamins and minerals are activated, increasing the bread’s nutritional value.
- Add dark, leafy greens. All fruits and vegetables are healthy, but dark leafy greens and sprouts are particularly potent. Use collard greens as a “wrap”, or add baby spinach, sunflower sprouts or even romaine lettuce to sandwiches.
- Pack in the protein. Protein rich foods help to balance blood sugar levels and keep your little ones feeling full and energized. Consider adding a hard-boiled egg to the lunchbox or replacing regular yogurt with Greek yogurt (which is rich and creamy tasting, and contains roughly 4 times more protein per serving!).
Parenting.com also has some great, nutritious lunch ideas. Quesadillas made with whole wheat wraps, tomato soup with a cheesy whole wheat toast “hat” floating on top, or classic spaghetti made healthier with whole wheat pasta and veggies grated into the sauce (and therefore “hidden” from picky eaters!) are just a few of the enticing ideas you’ll find here.
According to Spark People, a little ingenuity is all it takes to get kids eating healthier lunches.
- Add raw vegetables like celery, zucchini, grated carrots or even cucumber to tuna or chicken salad.
- If it comes with dip, they’ll probably devour it. Hummus or black bean dip is a perfect accompaniment to raw veggies or whole-wheat pita triangles. Plus if your child isn’t a big meat eater, the protein-rich beans are a good way to keep them full and satisfied!
- Add shredded vegetables to sandwiches and soups to increase their nutritional value.
- Make fruits more appealing and easier to eat by segmenting oranges and slicing apples and pears (toss them in a bit of lemon juice to keep them from going brown).
- Toss air-popped popcorn with cinnamon and just a touch of sugar for a yummy, whole-grain snack.
Remember, just like adults, kids also eat with their eyes. It might take a little bit more prep time, but if cutting cheese into star shapes, making a vegetable “face” on your child’s plate, or cutting fruit up into a colorful fruit salad helps, it’s worth the effort!
410150 CAN/US (04/15)