Back to school is a busy time of year with lots to think about as a parent. Everything from shopping for back to school supplies and clothes to planning to attend your children’s meet the teacher night. Another important thing to think about is preparing healthy back to school lunches.
It’s important for your kid’s lunches to be colorful, fun, tasty, and nutritious. Eating healthy, balanced meals can help improve your child’s school performance, development, and overall health.
Tip 1. Prepare lunches ahead of time
Prepping the school lunches ahead of time can make things less stressful as you try to get everyone ready in the morning. It also can give you extra time to make sure the lunch you’re packing is balanced and nutritious.
Prep your lunch ingredients on the days that you are the least busy. Rinse and chop your fruits and veggies so that they are ready to pack and eat. Be sure to rotate through a variety of options and colors (see ideas below). Change it up so your kids don’t get burned out on the same lunch day after day.
Red: tomatoes, bell peppers, radishes, raspberries, apples, watermelon, red pears and strawberries
Orange: carrots, bell peppers, peaches, nectarines, oranges, butternut squash, pumpkin, cantaloupe, sweet potato, and persimmons
Yellow: bananas, bell peppers, yellow tomatoes, yellow squash, corn, pineapple, and yellow radishes
Green: spinach, celery, pears, cucumbers, broccoli, zucchini, grapes, avocado, asparagus, kiwi, artichokes, apples, and green beans
Blue/Purple: grapes, eggplant, blackberries, cabbage, plums, blueberries, and purple carrots and potatoes
White: cauliflower, jicama, mushrooms, onion, and potatoes
Try including hummus or Greek yogurt as a fun sauce for your kids to dip their vegetables and fruit into.
Tip 2. Choose quality grains
Whether your packed lunch includes a traditional sandwich, or something less common, try including whole grain choices most of the time. Whole grains will offer your kids more fiber and nutrients. Examples include: whole wheat bread, brown or wild rice, quinoa, oatmeal, whole grain pasta, whole wheat crackers, and whole grain corn tortillas.
If you have younger children, cutting their sandwiches into fun shapes with cookie cutters and creating fun characters is a great way to get them excited about their lunches.
Tip 3. Include lean protein
To balance out your school lunch, be sure to include some quality protein. Protein is important for keeping your kid’s immune systems healthy and strong and will help them to feel more full so they don’t get hungry between meals. Include lean sources of protein that are rich in nutrients such as: eggs, tuna, salmon, nut butters, cottage cheese, turkey, tofu, beans, cheese, and chicken.
Hopefully you find this week’s blog topic helpful and it inspires you to revamp some of the school lunches for your children this year. Let’s do our part to keep our kids fueled with the best nutrition.
The Diet Duchess