Healthy school lunches are what all the chit chat is about these days. Many schools are serving healthier lunches than they used to, but you still may prefer to pack your child’s lunch yourself. Coming up with ideas can be a headache, though. Here are some tips on healthy school lunches that may help, followed by some menu ideas.
1.) Whatever Makes ’em Happy
Remember that your children don’t need a gourmet meal. Many parents have become frustrated by slaving over an elaborate meal only to have their kids request something simple like an apple or chicken nuggets. So, keeping healthy foods in mind, why not go with the simple stuff? In the menus that follow, you’ll see a lot of simple options.
Try cutting bread into interesting shapes, or arranging foods in creative and fun ways inside lidded containers. It’s like opening little gifts at lunchtime – what is it going to look like today? This doesn’t mean it has to be complicated or elaborate; it’s more about arrangement than complexity.
For instance, on a bed of flavored rice in a flat container, cut cheese slices into circles and arrange them with sliced olives to make flowers. Arrange “rays” of carrots and celery around a circle of dip. This system of lunch packing is called Bento, and you can find a lot of interesting ideas in books and online.
Healthy Versions of Lunch Favorites
Does your child love hotdogs, processed chicken nuggets, pepperoni, processed meats, and so forth? Shop at a health food store for healthier versions of these favorites. From whole grain mac and cheese mix to nitrite/nitrate-free deli meats, hotdogs, and pepperoni, you can find a lot of great foods that won’t have the preservatives and artificial ingredients that conventional foods do.
Here are some menu ideas for your kids’ lunches.
- Whole grain crackers, cheese, apple, celery with peanut butter and raisins
- Sliced turkey (nutritionists point out that sliced, cooked turkey is healthier than deli turkey), sliced apple with peanut butter, whole grain bread with butter or cream cheese
- Whole wheat bagel with cheese, tomato, sliced lean meat, and lettuce (mayo or mustard to taste), grapes, carrot sticks with dip
- Whole wheat pita stuffed with tuna salad, sweet bell pepper strips with dip, whole grain crackers, cheese slices
- Fruit kabobs, cheese cubes, whole grain bread with peanut butter
- Pasta salad, cherry tomatoes, baked multigrain chips
- Whole wheat wrap with hummus and miscellaneous veggies, whole grain sesame sticks, and kiwi fruit
- Whole wheat bagel with nitrite/nitrate-free pepperoni, cheese, and mustard, grape tomatoes, whole pear