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It’s Back to School-What’s for Lunch?

It’s back to school and time to think about what’s on the menu during the school day. Many children opt for school lunch but some would rather take a lunch with them. Here are some tips to help.

Think choice. Make sure kids have a say. Present several options. For example, would you like carrots or broccoli? Hummus or dip? Allowing kids to make a choice from several healthy options empowers them while you’re guiding them to pick a healthy lunch.

Think fun. The lunch boxes with those cute little compartments help to liven up a lunch. There are a number of choices to select from on-line or you can make your own. Reusable cupcake liners can help create a fun lunch box. They are colorful and bright and make that packed lunch really pop. Not only do the compartments keep foods separated, but they prevent you from using lots of plastic baggies, or lots of little plastic containers to pack different food items in. And of course they are perfect for the picky eaters who “don’t like their foods to touch.”

Think balance. Think about the quality of food in the box because many processed foods and sugary treats will leave your child sleepy after that quick burst of energy disappears. Orange slices, grapes and apples are nutrient packed alternatives that keep your child going throughout the school day.

Think the drink. Select low-fat or fat-free milk or fortified soy beverages. They offer key nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. Water is an excellent choice as well. Fill a clean, reusable water bottle and toss it in the lunch box.

Think food safety. Forget the brown bag and use an insulated carrier instead particularly if you are packing perishable foods like yogurt, meat and eggs. Keep those perishable foods cold with commercial freezer packs, frozen juice boxes, or frozen water containers. The goal is to keep the temperature in the carrier below 40°F. For hot foods like soup, chili or stew should be place in an insulated container to keep it above 140°F. 

Fun lunchbox ideas

  • Whole grain waffles with blueberries, topped with vanilla Greek yogurt.
  • Whole grain mini bagels with peanut butter and jelly
  • Veggies and hummus
  • Mini whole wheat pita pockets with grilled-chicken strips and veggies
  • Bean salad with whole grain tortilla chips

For kid approved recipes for any meal occasion check out http://foodhero.org/recipes/categories/1406