Healthy From-Home School Lunches for Your Children

Millions of children need healthful lunches away from home, and most won’t find them in the school lunch program. A lot of junk food is present in the cafeteria or school vending machines. This leaves many parents puzzled about how to provide healthy food for school lunches that not only tastes great but also looks good. If you’re one of those parents searching for ideas to provide nutritious items for your kids’ lunches, here are some tips to help you with the problem.

Sandwiches

Sandwiches are the old mainstay of from-home school lunches. One of the biggest challenges is packing sandwiches that do not need to be refrigerated yet still appeal to kids. Thanks to the growing number of innovative products that are now available, this can be easily accomplished without too much frustration. To add interest to a sandwich, consider other options instead of bread. Taco shells, burrito wrappers, and pitas can all be used to hold sandwich fillings. Roll up a thin flour tortilla after filling it with beans, lettuce, and cheese. The roll can be sliced to create pinwheel sandwiches or left whole. Health food stores and some retail stores now sell veggie-pockets as well as prepackaged sandwiches with healthy ingredients.

Apart from the old-standby of peanut butter and jelly, try new spreads that are non-perishable. Experiment with different fillings each day to avoid boredom and repetition. Some examples of filling combinations are: low fat cream cheese with shredded carrots and raisins, natural nut butters with fruit jams, pita bread stuffed with sliced avocado, tomatoes, sprouts, and cold cuts.

Dessert

Don’t forget dessert when you pack school lunches because your kids will be looking for it. Include desert items that are not high in fat, sugar and sodium. Instead choose fruit-sweetened, healthy-yet-tasty cookies, fruit gels, cereal bars, fruit leathers, animal cookies, and granola bars. Another option is colorful fruit cups; trail mix, apples, and yogurt.

Beverages

All of those healthy lunches will need wholesome beverages to wash everything down. Choose aseptic juice packs that are 100 percent fruit juice. Spritzers are also a great alternative to sugary sodas. They have all the fizz of a soda combined with the nutrition of fruit juice. Spritzers are available in colorful cans and in fruit combinations that your kids will enjoy. Other options include flavored water and aseptic packs of flavored milk. There are also tasty alternatives of soy or rice milks.

Snacks

Healthy snacks are not hard to find. Multigrain chips, nuts, and fruit sauces are great fillers for a hungry child. Carrot sticks, raisins, dried fruit combinations, whole grain crackers, and fat-free fruit -filled snacks are also good choices.

Vitamins

It might seem strange to mention vitamins in your child’s lunch box but this is just as important as what they eat. Giving your kids vitamins will help build their immune system especially when colds start circulating through the school. Vitamins can provide valuable insurance against missed school days. Kids usually rush off to school with very little breakfast and lunch is the time when they can easily pop a vitamin in their mouths. Read vitamin labels carefully and if at all possible select those with the purest ingredients. If your child dislikes swallowing pills, choose all-natural, 100 percent fruit juice sweetened chewable vitamins. They are packaged in colorful wrappings, delicious flavors, and assorted animal shapes.

Wrapping it all up

Now that you have all the healthy sandwiches, snacks, beverages, and vitamins ready, it’s time to consider how your child is going to transport these great lunches to school. Make it easy by purchasing a re-usable, insulated nylon lunch bag. These lunch bags come in all shapes and sizes to accommodate a variety of lunch preparations. Some contain sections for ice packs while others are equipped with matching freezer bottles. Nylon lunch bags can easily be tucked into backpacks and are less bulky than plastic boxes or cumbersome paper bags.

Packing a nutritious lunch for each day of your child’s school year is quite easy with a little thoughtful planning. Spending money on healthy food for your child’s lunch is just as important as school clothes and supplies. The reward will be better health and learning capabilities.

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