September was back-to-school month...getting organized around books, supplies and first day back-to-school outfits, etc. We want to make this one task easier: Packing the lunch bag.
You know that with a healthy meal, your child gets the energy she or he needs to make it through the day and thrive. A healthy lunch can allow your child to perform and study well, be more attentive in class and even maintain a healthy weight. Save these tips below and your child will keep that healthy lunch rather than ditch it or swap it for a bag of chips or soda.
1. Make at Home – this is the best way to ensure the quality of your child’s meal. Food items in school cafeterias and snack machines may be loaded with excess calories, sodium and fat.
2. Keep It Simple – no need to go overboard when packing a school lunch! Having a few “go-to” meal ideas or using last night’s leftovers are simple and easy to pack up.
3. Team Up Together – children are more willing to eat or try something new if they’re involved in preparing. Give your child a few healthy options and let them decide what they want.
Lunch Bag Bonuses
Add these energy-filled items to the lunch bag this school season:
1. Wraps – A nice change-up from regular bread. Try different flavor varieties, like tomato and spinach. Fill them with a lean protein such as turkey or chicken and plenty of veggies like carrots, spinach, cucumber and tomatoes. Use a low-fat spread such as hummus or light salad dressing.
2. Veggies and Dip – Veggies like carrots, broccoli, celery, bell peppers and sugar snap peas are crunchy and packed with fiber to curb hunger. Pack with a low-fat dip such as bean or a yogurt-based ranch dip.
3. Fruit and Nut or Trail Mix – Unsalted seeds and nuts provide a great source of protein. Add in your child’s favorite dried fruit and even dark chocolate chips for a little sweet treat. Stick to a serving size of ¼ - ½ cup (about one child’s handful).
4. Yogurt Parfait – Layer nonfat regular or Greek yogurt with your child’s favorite fruits. For additional toppings add low-fat granola, unsalted nuts like almonds or walnuts or a high-fiber cereal.
5. Pre-made Salads – Toss fresh pasta, couscous, or quinoa with tuna, chicken and vegetables for a cold satisfying salad. To save time, prepare a large batch ahead of time and portion out for the week.
Beverages! It’s important for your child to stay hydrated during the day. Good drink choices include plain or flavored water, fat-free chocolate milk (for extra protein and calcium) or 100% fruit juice with no added sugar.
Also be sure to check out NWH‘s multitude of recipes on our nutrition page.