It is that time of the year… back to school! After a healthy summer, how can you keep your children on a nutritious diet during the school year? Thinking of healthy choices that are lunchbox friendly can be tough. Getting back to the busy routine can make it easy to just want to pack a Lunchable or sandwich with lunchmeat. Here are some tips to keep your kids on track for a healthy school year and take away your lunch-packing stress!
- At least three food groups should be in your child’s lunch.
- Choose whole-grain breads, crackers, and tortilla.
- Think outside the bread. Tortillas are a great way to mix it up.
- Include at least one fruit and one vegetable in their lunch every day.
- Pack a protein and make it lean, such as tuna, salmon, skinless chicken, and turkey. Mix up their protein choices by packing beans, peas, and soy products.
- Forget the sandwich! Pack a hearty soup. Pack hummus, peanut butter, or almond butter and some yummy, healthy items to dip in them and make a dipping station.
- Pack fat-free milk, 100% juice, or water. Stay away from sugary drinks.
- Time for dessert! Fat-free vanilla Greek yogurt is a great source of protein and calcium, plus you can mix in items for flavor, such as 1 TBSP of dark chocolate chips, fruit, or granola. Or look at our recipes to find some healthy snacks.
- Make meals in advanced. Does your child like a certain food that can be frozen? Make extra and throw them in the freezer to save yourself time.
- Make sure your kids have a lunchbox big enough to store an icepack to keep their food cold until lunchtime.
Packing school lunches can be a great learning opportunity for your kids, so be sure to include them in the packing! However, rather than letting them have free range of the pantry, give them options of healthy items and let them choose what items they would like for their lunch.
For even more tips on healthy eating for you and your family, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov.