HOW TO PACK A HEALTHY SCHOOL LUNCH FOR PICKY KIDS

School is back in session! For busy parents, that means adding lunch-packing back into their daily schedules. Here are some tips to pack a lunch that even your pickiest kids will eat!


BY: JESSICA SPIRO, RD, CLC

It’s back-to-school time, which means you may be struggling with the task of packing a healthy school lunch for your kids. You want your kids to have healthy food, but you also want their lunch boxes to come back empty.

The struggle is real!

While it can be challenging to make a kid-friendly healthy school lunch, there are definitely tips, tricks and creative meal ideas that will make creating meals for your little ones faster and easier.

Tip 1: Prepare your child’s balanced healthy school lunch in advance

To help plan out your kids meals, make a mini checklist! A balanced meal includes a protein, a healthy fat, and a carbohydrate. If you can add fruit and veggies most days of the week, even better!. Here are some options to get you started!

CARBOHYDRATE
  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Tortilla
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
PROTEIN
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Beans (edamame, chili, hummus)
  • Tofu
HEALTHY FAT
  • Avocado
  • Olives
  • Olive Oil
VEGGIES
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Bell Peppers
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Baby Carrots
  • Broccoli
FRUIT
  • Berries
  • Kiwi
  • Clementines
  • Bananas

Tip 2: Make meals look appealing

Your kids will be more likely eat their lunches if they look enticing.  One way to do this is to present familiar foods in a fun way. Cutting sandwiches with cookie cutters, putting veggies into cupcake holders and using popsicle sticks for cheese and meat are easy ways to transform your kids school lunch into a fun treat.

Also, consider investing in a good bento-style lunch box, such as:

  • YumBox – It’s leakproof so you can put hummus or yogurt right in the lunch box. Plus they are absolutely adorable!
  • PlanetBox – This is made from stainless steel and includes removable parts that can be modified depending on what you’re including in their lunches.

Tip 3: Have your kids help in the kitchen

It may be messy and perhaps not all that “helpful”, but encouraging your kids to stay involved in preparing their own food is a great way to make sure their lunch boxes come back empty. They will not only be more likely to eat their lunches if they helped put them together, but they will also learn valuable culinary skills.

Tip 4: Use leftovers

Make meal planning easier by reusing leftovers. For example, you can make a bean dish for dinner one night, then turn it into burritos later in the week. While you meal plan during the weekdays, include chilis and pasta dishes so you can use up any other leftover foods!

Adapted from the original article.

Jessica Spiro, RD, CLC is a registered dietitian nutritionist from Encinitas, CA specializing in pre- and post-natal nutrition, as well as cancer, food allergies, diabetes management, and heart health. Check out more fun recipe ideas and nutrition tips with Jessica!

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