Studies have shown that children who eat a well-balanced lunch often do better in school and are more alert. So if you’re a parent who packs their child’s lunch, how do you make sure they’re getting the most out of it? Try these:
First, buy your child a lunchbox that is age appropriate and fits their personality. Make it something fun. They may be more apt to enjoy their lunch if it’s all about them.
Second, remember that you’re not packing a lunch for you. You’re packing a lunch for your child. If you pack things you like but your child hates (like broccoli), you’ll find those foods still sitting in that lunchbox when it comes back home. Offer your child a few healthy choices and let them weigh in on what they want. This way, you can give them a healthy lunch while still letting them feel like they’re in control.
Avoid pre-packaged, processed foods. Sure, they’re convenient and their sizes are kid-friendly, but they’re also expensive and loaded with sodium and preservatives.
Protein will keep your child fuller longer, so make sure it’s a staple of their lunch. If they’re not a fan of meat, you can still give them protein in nuts (as long as there are no allergy concerns). Peanut butter is an excellent option. You could also include a hard-boiled egg or make a tuna salad.
Leftovers can offer a nice change of pace, and give you an opportunity to take a little taste of home with them to the lunchroom. Pack leftover meatballs into a whole-grain hotdog bun for a sandwich. Mix leftover rice and vegetables and top with chunks of pork or chicken.
Instead of chips, try packing something healthier like cheese sticks, whole-grain snack crackers, dried fruit or low-fat yogurt.
But no matter what you pack, make sure its packing keeps it safe. Invest in a reusable ice pack to keep perishables cool, a thermos to hold warm foods and a variety of different sized containers.