Fun Lunches to Fight Childhood Obesity
With childhood obesity rates rising, it’s as important as ever to offer your children healthy eating options at every meal. School lunch can present a minefield for your kid’s nutrition, but you can do your part by sending them off with the same nutritious options they eat at home.
A balanced lunch is crucial for children’s development, and you’ll want to do your best to ensure your child is making healthy choices at school. A nutrient-rich meal can fuel your child’s brain and body, helping him or her concentrate in class and burn energy with sports while developing healthy eating habits for adulthood.
Involving your child in meal planning serves the wonderfully dual purpose of teaching children about nutrition and increasing the likelihood that they’ll eat the healthy option that they picked out. If you opt for the nutritious hot meals at school, sit down with your child to review menus and agree on the healthy choice. For pack lunches, let your child take part in grocery shopping and making the meal. When kids choose their own fruits, vegetables and protein, they’re more motivated to eat and less likely to trade away the healthy stuff!
Whether you cook – and freeze – well in advance or prefer a quick, easy recipe to whip together the morning-of, here are five fun and healthy lunch ideas for kids.
1. Fun Sandwich Fillers
Sandwiches will always have a home in your student’s lunch box, but that doesn’t mean you need to send them off with PB&J every day or highly processed lunch meat. Consider the simple mozzarella and tomato combo and fillings of fruit salad, grilled chicken and tuna salad made with olive oil or light mayo. Avocado or guacamole is a great heart healthy mayo replacement that adds creaminess to any sandwich. Find recipes here.
2. Pita Pockets
Bread is great, but the standard sandwich can sometimes get old. Mix it up – and keep it all nutritious – with pitas, tortillas and stackable foods like apple slices. Chose whole grains for crackers, breads, and pitas or options with 3 grams or more of fiber per serving. From the simple (ham and cheese) to the exciting (turkey melon), find your next pita recipe here.
3. Snack Lunch
If your kid is a grazer, this could be the perfect lunch for him or her. With lots of different colors, flavors, textures and shapes, this nutritious snack pack is great for picky eaters too. Take advantage of that divided container when you pack up fruit salad, fresh veggies with dip, and a nuts and dried fruit trail mix.
4. Homemade Lunchables
The pre-packaged make-your-own lunch pack always seems so great in theory, but it’s a far cry from healthy. Give your kids the fun and the nutrition when you pack up a homemade lunchable box with bagel chips or whole-wheat pita slices, cheddar slices and tomatoes or pizza sauce and shredded mozzarella. Customize as you like!
5. Healthy “Junk” Food
As perplexing as it sounds, you can send your child off to school with their favorite foods and peace of mind. Find healthy alternatives for junk food here.