You won’t find it hard to find advice on packing healthy lunches for your kids to take to school. Unfortunately, much of that advice isn’t a realistic way to make your child a healthy school lunch.
Let’s start with a reality check. If you are already sending hand-roasted quinoa on a bed of arugula with lightly drizzled omega-3 flax seed oil, then go ahead and skip this article. For the rest of us, here is how to pack a good, healthy lunch for you kids.
Let’s do another reality check. What do they eat for lunch at home?
Many parents try to hit a healthier note with the lunches they pack for school than the regular lunches the same kids eat at home. This is likely a mistake. Obviously, if your kid is unhealthy in some way, and you are trying to make changes, changes need to be made in take to school cold lunches as well. On the other hand, if your kids are pretty healthy and the pediatrician has no complaints, then why mess with a good thing? Chances are your diet didn’t have much quinoa when you were growing up either.
Now, you don’t want to be filling a lunch box with junk food and sending them out the door, but there is a realistic health level that you can match, and that they will voluntarily eat. Don’t forget, you aren’t there to say, “two more bites,” and chances are that “superfood” you put in there is going straight into the trash.
Best Lunches to Pack for Kids in School
So, what are the best things to put in a child’s school lunch brought from home?
Has your kid ever told you they don’t have enough time to eat lunch. They aren’t lying. Schools are trying to cram more instructional hours into each day, and shorter lunch breaks is one way to do that. At my kid’s school, they literally get 15 minutes to eat, and then they send the kids out to recess and turn the tables over to the next grade.
At higher grades, kids get a little bit more control over their lunch hour, but do you think that your middle schooler wants to sit long in the cafeteria, or do they want to meet up with friends?
So, we are looking for speedy and healthy. This isn’t a great combo, but there are things you can do to ensure your child gets good nutrition from lunch at school.
Made by hand lunches may be full of love, but they aren’t necessarily any more nutritious. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Wonder Bread basically has no nutrition other than what is in the peanut butter.
The key to a successfully eaten, healthy lunch is to include all the food groups and nutrition types. Throw in some sort of fruit or veggie, a yogurt or cheese stick for dairy (you’ll need a thermos to send actual milk because it will be too warm by the time your kid gets to it, otherwise), then something with protein, a drink, some sort of carbohydrate like chips or crackers, and a dessert.
Ideas Ho To Make Good School Lunches for Kids
Here are some ingredients and other ideas to help you pack a healthy, good lunch that actually gets eaten.
- Protein bars – I like Clif Bars myself. They have tons of different flavors and none of them have high fructose corn syrup. They offer a way to get protein and will also help fill up your child so they aren’t hungry later.
- Yogurt tubes – Get a better one that GoGurt, and you have protein and calcium in a quick to eat tube that will almost never get left behind. Most yogurt tubes can be frozen. Stick a frozen one in your child’s lunch in the morning and it will be ready and fresh come lunch time.
- Apple Sauce or Fruit Packs – Sure, real fruit is better, and if your kids will eat it, go for it. For me, apples seems to come back with just one or two bites out of them. It all comes down to time, and apples take a while to eat, especially if you are younger.
- Healthy Popcorn – Pop your own fresh popcorn, or get one of the “health” ones to help round out your kids lunch.
- Juice – If your kid is overweight, too much juice is often part of the problem. If not, juice CAN BE a good nutrition value. The catch is that you have to buy 100% fruit juice. Too much juice is actually sugar water flavored with juice. Check the label, if it says, sugar or high fructose corn syrup, put it back on the shelf.
- I like the little packs of gummy fruits for dessert. Don’t be fooled by “made with real fruit”. If you splash some fruit into the vat as you walk by, it’s “made with real fruit”. Regard these as a dessert or treat.
What ideas do you have for making your kids’ lunches. Did we hit all of your favorites?