Here are some basics to keep in mind:
- Protein – Choose lean deli meats or make a salad using chicken or tuna.
- Whole Grains –Whole grain bread will increase fiber intake, which will help keep kids feeling full longer and less likely to grab for snacks. If your kids have been used to white bread, switch to “light” whole grain bread that is lighter in texture but provides the fiber.
- Fruits –Kids are more likely to eat fruit if it is cut up. Instead of a whole apple, slice and core it, dip in lemon juice and pack in a resealable bag or purchase pre-sliced packages of apples. Individual serving cans of mandarin oranges, peaches or other fruits are also good choices.
- Vegetables – Baby carrots are a favorite with kids. Also try cherry tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower florets or even a small salad. A small container of dip can make the veggies more fun to eat.
- Dairy – Skim milk or a fortified milk alternative provide the calcium and vitamin D that kids need. Low fat yogurt is also a good choice, as long as it‘s not loaded with sugars and other add-ins. Try mixing plain vanilla yogurt with fresh fruit. You can also add a slice of cheese to the sandwich or pack cheese cubes.
Reduce the fat and sugar and increase the fiber and nutrients by trading up to better choices. Your kids will have more energy to get through the day and develop good eating habits that will help them maintain a healthy weight.
Different foods provide different vitamins and minerals. Pack a variety of foods in your child’s lunch to ensure that they are getting a wide range of nutrients to grow up strong. Try some of these other lunch box ideas:
Sandwiches are convenient but can become routine. Make sandwiches more exciting by varying the basic ingredients:
Whole grains don’t have to be just for a sandwich. Try these combinations that combine the food groups in a different way:
This is key! Create a menu for the week and purchase the ingredients you will need to make lunches. Consider packing lunchboxes the night before to minimize the morning rush. Older children can make sandwiches and cut vegetables and fruits. A younger child can pack the foods into the lunchbox. By being actively involved in packing lunch, children can learn more about healthy eating, be more likely to eat the foods they chose and develop a sense of ownership for their health.