We all know that some kids really look forward to lunch time at school, while others would prefer to skip lunch in favor of playing with their friends. Either way, it’s often a challenge to give them healthy foods you can be sure they will eat. There’s no sure-fire way to please each child each day, and some lunch boxes may come home barely touched.
One simple rule of thumb is to pack healthy foods you already know they like, such as sliced meat, grapes, yogurt and crackers. In general, try to pack an item from each of these food families:
- Fresh fruit and crunchy vegetables
- Lean protein like sliced meat or poultry, hardboiled eggs, nut butters (many schools bar peanuts or peanut butter)
- A dairy product such as cheese, yogurt or milk
- A grain-based food such as bread, pita, crackers, or tortillas
Simple, easy-to-prepare foods are a must for busy families. Sometimes time for packing a healthy lunch is at a premium during the morning rush. One solution is preparing foods and freezing them the night before. Many foods are suitable for freezing and can thaw through the morning without becoming soggy. Experiment with freezing your child’s favorites. Examples of freezable foods include:
- Breads, tortillas, pitas (and sandwiches made with ingredients below)
- Cooked meat
- Soft cheese
- Peanut butter
- Baked beans
- Mashed eggs
Keep it Safe!
Packing non-perishable foods is a must in school lunches. Most sandwich ingredients, fresh fruits and vegetables should be fine if prepared in the morning. Using insulated lunch boxes and bags goes a long way in helping ensure foods remain cool before the children report to the lunch room. Try freezing foods (see above) or use a freezer pack in the lunch box as an extra precaution.
Water should be included in every lunch box to encourage your children to stay hydrated. Freezing the water bottle will provide cool water when they are ready to drink it, as well as keeping packed lunches cold.