How to Pack More Nutrition into Sack Lunch?
What's in the Sack Lunch?
Let’s face it—packing school lunches can be a pain and a challenge.
Then why bother? There are a number of reasons—you may think school lunches are not as healthy, your kid may not like school lunches or you think you can better control the nutritional intake of your child. In some cases, your kid's medical condition may warrant it.
Given the choice, your kids would most likely opt for fruits snacks, chips, hot-pockets, cookies, drink pouches or puddings to put in their lunch box. While it may be necessary sometimes to toss in some of these for varieties, making these pre-packaged and processed choices the staple content of the lunch box may spell disaster in the long run. If you break down the nutritional value of these neatly packaged foods, a few frightening components come up: simple sugar and carbohydrates, trans fat, saturated fats, high sodium content , not to mention preservatives and chemicals to make the foods appealing and appetizing. That may explain the rise of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular complications even among children. According to the National Center of Health Statisitcs, nearly one out of three children are obese.
Sack Lunches may bring an even bigger smile.
Sure, lunch is just one meal in a day but that’s one meal too many to not eat healthy.
Nutritionist and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Feeding Your Baby and Toddler, believes in packing school lunches. She says, “I’m a big fan of school lunches, but you have more control over the cost and what your child eats if you pack lunch at home.”
It’s one thing to stock the lunch bag with nutritious choices, another to ensure your kid eats it. If it’s not appealing or tasty, you don’t know if your kid actually ditches them in the trash. Or trades your carefully prepared meal for a bar of Three Musketeers. Your best bet? Infuse food choices with nutrition, good looks and taste. In other words, make your sack lunches appealing and nutritious.
Are these snacks commonly found in your sack lunch?
However, there are a few things to remember before you set out to prepare nourishing healthy foods:
Lunch doesn’t have to be PB and J everyday or chicken nuggets everyday. If your kid is bored with your selection, the chances are they may not get eaten. Get creative and play with different food choices and experiment with different ways to make foods more appealing.
Finicky kids are selective. Rather than packed what you think is delicious, ask them to pick their favorites. And with some ingenuity, any choice can be made more nutritious with some tricks, which we will cover soon.
Tuna may be healthy but no kid wants to have all his friends move away from the lunch table because of that. So smell the foods you prepare, if they don’t smell good, don’t include.
Kids love to find treats in their lunch boxes, so be sure to include some healthy treats.
Ask your kid to help with the planning, selection and preparation of the meals. If they are involved, they are more likely to eat them.
If your lunch smells, you maybe lunching alone....well, maybe...
With that in mind, let’s get sneaky and sneak some nutrition into the lunch meals.
Healthy Lunch Choices
A healthy lunch should be balanced with the five main groups of foods: carbohydrates, protein, dairy products and fruits and vegetables. Refer to Food Pyramid Guide for kids for more details.
Choices include whole grain breads, pasta, pita, flatbread, tortillas, Lavosh, English muffins, crackers, rice cakes, crispbreads, and bagels.
Meat (you can easily baked chicken breast or beef and sliced them up—healthier than processed meat), peanut butter, hummus, eggs and beans.
Another way to jazz up plain rice cakes--peanut butter and jelly!
All the healthy stuff you can stuff inside a wrap.
Milk, yogurt, cream cheese and cheese
Fruits and Vegetables
Any kind of fruits but it’s best to include those that your kid likes.
Vegetables can included in sandwiches, wraps or eaten as salads. Celery sticks and carrots are easy to prepare and they won’t wilt.
Snack on these gems of nutrients and antioxidants.
With these 5 main food groups, you can permutate and come out with enough ideas to keep your kids happy through their school life. Here are some ideas:
1. Make sandwiches, wraps, burritos, or tacos with
choices of carbohydrates and meat. You can also include lettuce, tomatoes,
slices of cucumber or shredded carrots to make it even more nutritional.
To avoid soggy sandwiches, use a little butter or margarine to coat breads or toast breads with slices of cheese before adding meat and vegetables.
2. You can spread rice cakes with cream cheese or peanut butter and top it with chopped fruits, nuts or vegetables.
3. Toss meat cut into cubes with mayonnaise and chopped vegetables. Add nuts, seeds or dried fruits if desired.
4. Toss pasta with meat, vegetables and favorite seasonings.
5. Cut vegetables and pack dressings separately. Combine before eating.
6. Include fruits—already cut or whole. Frozen fruit slices are good in the summer—just remember to pack them with ice-packs.
7. Healthy snacks include trail mix, nuts (some kids are allergic to nuts), air-popped snack or baked chips, pretzels or naturally sweeten fruit snacks.