Colorful, tasty lunches featuring each of the five food groups equals one happy, healthy kid. Prepping an all-star lunch for your little scholar doesn’t have to be a challenge — there are a ton of different ways to make sure they’re eating healthy foods while they’re mastering their ABCs and 123s.
A healthy school lunch should combine nutrient-rich foods from several food groups to supply the protein, fat and carbohydrates needed to sustain energy and concentration for several hours. Providing foods from each of the five food groups will help sustain a child throughout the rest of the school day and well into their after-school activities.
It’s important to practice safe food handling when packing a lunch. Pack a frozen juice box
or ice pack in an insulated lunch box to keep contents cold until lunchtime.
A balanced boxed lunch should contain foods from each of the five food groups: dairy, vegetables, fruits, grains, and meat and beans. This variety gives children the nutrients they need to prevent a drop in blood sugar for several hours. Here are a few tips to make the most of your child’s lunch hour:
1. Go bento.
Brown paper bags and plastic Ziploc bags are not only a thing of the past — they’re not too kind to the environment. Opt for an easy-open bento box with compartments to help you remember all of the meal components, and let your kid pick their lunch box — they’ll be more excited about their lunch and less likely to forget it at home or on the bus.
2. Keep it fun.
Packing a nutritious, colorful lunch with a little variety keeps things healthy and interesting. If your kid loves a certain sandwich that you’ve been prepping every day, cut it into a fun shape or throw in a fruit they’ve never tried before. And packing their favorite sweet treat once a week doesn’t hurt.
3. Enlist help.
Stick a note to the fridge to remind your kids what foods are in each food group. Allow them pick from the list and pack things up.
4. Get creative.
If you have a pickier eater, dips and smoothies can save the day! Sneak some fruits and vegetables into a to-go smoothie or make them dippable with peanut butter or hummus.