When kids are little, they're totally psyched to open their lunch bag
and see what you've prepared for them, so seize the opportunity to feed them all good stuff! Older kids may be a little more set in their brown-bag ways, but it's not too late to health-ify their lunches. Give them a little nutrition
pep talk (keep it short!) and involve them in what to include in their lunch
. For any age kid, toss in a love note; I still include ones to my 9-year-old that say things like, "Have a great day at school, you have gymnastics tonight!"
What you can do to make sure you're packing healthy school lunches:
Pack the right mix.
You want to include something with protein (see suggestions below) which gives kids energy and keeps them alert, and sliced veggies or pieces of fruit (or both!) along with a bottle of water or box of 100-percent fruit juice.
Make a healthy "main course."
, try turkey, ham and low-fat cheese, or chicken salad made with low-fat mayo. Or give a couple of hard-boiled eggs or four boiled egg whites in a plastic bag. Consider canned wild or Alaskan salmon, de-boned — it's packed with Vitamin D and omega-3's, good for brain power. And it tastes like chicken! (Really, it does!) One of my kids doesn't like bread, so I send in rolls of fresh-sliced turkey. You can also do tuna with a handful of whole-grain crackers for dipping.
Dessert: it's optional.
Preschoolers don't usually expect a sweet treat; that happens as they get older, when dessert practically becomes a competitive lunchroom sport. So don't feel obligated to send one in. A fun, unexpected extra could be a pickle! Or a baggie of Savory Chex Mix
. If your child is getting to that age when all the other kids have dessert, do a 100-calorie snack pack, two chocolate chip cookies or a few licorice sticks.
Check out all of Joy Bauer's
recipes, ideas and healthy eating tips on ParentsConnect.com. Go!