It’s back to school season, and families coast to coast are preparing for the rush of a new year. That includes trying to figure out what to make for the next umpteen weeks of school lunches… lunches that kids will actually eat. Lunches that won’t make parents feel guilty. It’s a thin line to walk day in and day out for an entire school year!
Healthy Dining’s dietitians are quick to stress balance when it comes to creating lifelong healthy eaters. Mixing and matching healthier foods with less healthful kid favorites gets in the nutrition without increasing the risk that your hard-built lunch will end up being traded away or filling the trash can. As you’re making lunches, follow these tips from our dietitians and these from Melissa Halas-Liang, MA, RD, CDE, of SuperKids Nutrition to make a healthy school lunch your kids will actually eat:
- Get your kids involved. Ask them about their favorite foods to pack for lunch. Have your children help pack lunch the night before. The more you get them involved, the more likely it is that they will eat the food!
- Eat the rainbow. Aim to include at least two colors of plant-based foods at lunch. For example: orange carrots and frozen pineapple tidbits, red sugar plum tomatoes and green grapes, or black bean dip and frozen mango chunks. Not only does this boost the nutritional quality, but it also makes the meal more colorful and exciting!
- Keep it interesting by diversifying. When offering variety, keep portion sizes small and colorful. For example, a sprig of purple grapes, four sticks of carrots and celery, a small container of low fat ranch dressing. Or you could try five pieces of sliced apples sprinkled with cinnamon, a small turkey and cheese wrap and a small square of black bean brownie with an 8 oz. carton of milk. With lots of small options, you are increasing the chances that your child will get a balanced meal at lunch.
Find these and more ideas to help you build healthier school lunches on SuperKids Nutrition. Don’t forget to treat the entire family to Healthy Dining and Kids LiveWell menu choices at restaurants to save your time and sanity. Dietitian-recommended menu choices like those below can be found at restaurants nationwide for your next family meal.
There are so many lunches to make during the school year! Check out our Food Friendly Family board on Pinterest and the resources below for even more ideas to get you through another school year:
- The Bento Box Way from SuperKids Nutrition
- School Lunch Ideas from 100 Days of Real Food
- Healthy School Lunches & Snacks from Parents
- Nutritionist Moms Reveal What’s in Their Kids’ Lunch Boxes from Huffington Post
- School Lunch Ideas from Jenna Braddock
- 15 Dietitian-Approved Lunch Box Staples from Yummy Mummy Club