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After looking at countless Bento lunches on Pinterest, you may feel like you need a degree in nutrition and food art to make a healthy school lunch. In reality packing a healthy lunch isn’t that hard or time consuming. Below are some simple ways for you to make your child’s lunches healthier without all the work.
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Skip the juice boxes: Although 100% juice options are better than some of the others, they still carry a lot of unneeded sugar and calories. Try packing water instead. If you are worried about whether or not your child will drink it, try weaning them off juice gradually by very slowly watering it down. You can also try adding a lemon slice.
Go wheat: Instead of using white bread for your kids’ sandwiches look for a brand of wheat bread that your kids like. There are so many varieties out there that you can usually find one that your kids will like. Options like brown rice, wheat tortillas, and wheat pasta are also healthier.
Whole foods: While those little baggies of chips are easier, they aren’t very good for us. Try to replace any processed foods with whole foods. Whole foods contain less sugar, sodium, preservatives, and other chemicals. You can substitute things like crackers, cookies, and chips with prewashed fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, nuts, and popcorn.
Variety is important: Did you know that the color of fruits and vegetables tell you about what kind of nutrients they have? By providing a broad array, you are making sure your children get all the nutrients they need. Plus mixing things up helps kids not get bored.
Presentation matters: Although you shouldn’t feel like you have to cut up your child’s watermelon into cute little stars, you do want to make sure that the watermelon juices don’t end up soaking his burrito. And what kid gets excited about a sandwich that has been mashed by her apple? If you want your kids to eat healthy foods, you should at least make sure they are palatable. You can protect foods by using hard, plastic, reusable containers.
For foods that taste better hot, try using a thermos. Cold foods can be kept cold with an ice pack or a frozen water bottle. It is especially important to keep some foods cold so you don’t risk food poisoning.
Trial runs: We all know that if your kids don’t like something you packed for lunch it will end up in the trash. Use lunchtime over the weekend and vacations to try out new healthy options. That way you will know what they will actually eat. Plus it can take several times before kids will try a new food. Serving it up at home will help it get the reception it deserves.
Get it together: Although your sandwiches don’t have to be crafted into cute little owls, you are going to have to bite the bullet and plan ahead a little. When grocery shopping stock up on healthy options and have them prepped and ready to go either at the beginning of the week or the night before. You are less likely to quickly shove in a bag of chips if you already have healthy sandwiches made or fruits and vegetables bagged and ready to go.