Children who eat nutritious foods do better in school, but coming up with healthy back-to-school lunch ideas that children will actually eat can be a challenge for many parents.
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 into their after-school activities.
A balanced boxed lunch should contain foods from each of the five food groups -- Dairy, Vegetables, Fruits, Grains and Protein. This variety gives children the nutrients they need to prevent a drop in blood sugar for several hours. Making a balanced lunchbox for your child can be quick and easy.
Healthy Lunchbox Ideas
Foods like fruit, bread, crackers and juice provide carbohydrates, while milk, cheese, yogurt, lean meat and beans provide protein to balance a kid’s meals. Fat is found in nuts, peanut butter, meat and some dairy foods. Providing children a balance and variety of these foods will ensure they are well-nourished and energized for learning.
The key is to balance nutrition with your child’s personal taste by getting him/her involved in the back-to-school lunch preparation process to reduce food waste.
Students usually have limited time for lunch, so including foods that they like and can eat quickly will help ensure they get the energy they need to sustain them for the rest of the day.
When your children are involved in the planning process they'll be more likely to eat what is prepared. Children who help select and prepare their meals are more likely to actually eat them.
It’s a simple and effective way to make sure your children get the energy they need to learn and the nutrition that keeps them healthy. It will also be easier to get help with the meal preparation and cleanup process if their food preferences are considered.
More Healthy Lunch Ideas
Lunch should contain food from all five main food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, protein and dairy foods. Many children do not like sandwiches for lunch, so including some variety in the menu can prevent children from getting bored with their lunch and will prevent them from straying to the vending machine or snack bar. Some sandwich alternatives are:
Hard boiled eggs
Crackers with cheese or peanut butter
Hummus and pita chips
Sliced veggies with yogurt dip
Wrap sandwiches – almost everything tastes better when wrapped in a plain or flavored tortilla, lavash or other flatbreads
Warm Lunch Ideas
It is important to practice safe food handling when packing a school lunch. If lunches are not refrigerated, after about two hours the food can begin to grow harmful bacteria that cause food borne illnesses. You can keep lunches cold by sending a frozen 100 percent juice box or ice pack in an insulated lunch box to keep contents cold until lunchtime.
If you’re too busy to prepare lunch you may want to take advantage of your school’s cafeteria. The school lunch is another nutritious and economical option for families. Take a look at the school lunch menu with your child and decide which days your child would like to eat the school meal. Remember, getting their input is always important when you want to ensure they will eat the meal and get the energy and nutrients they need. For the school year 2019-2020 vegan dishes are being introduced in Miami Dade County schools.
Something else to consider is exercise. Many schools do not offer a daily physical education class. Daily exercise is very important to the health of your child. If your child school doesn't offer PE every day you should consider enrolling them in some sport or martial arts program. We offer a 1 week trial for just $19.99. Our classes are fun and exciting and will also help them with the following life skills.
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