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How to Pack a Healthy and Wholesome School Lunch

With school back in session, it’s important to start your child’s year off on the right foot!  This not only includes helping your child get a good night’s sleep, but also making sure their body is fueled with healthy food. Including protein in your child’s breakfast is an important part of helping to prepare them for the first half of their school day.  

We know that you can’t also be with your child making sure they are eating well, but packing a healthy and wholesome lunch can go a long way in making sure your child is ready to learn.  

Follow these easy steps in making your kid’s lunch healthy and nutritious:

1.  Get your Kid Involved

  • Give your kids healthy food options from each food group and let them make the final decisions on what goes in their lunch.
  • Help your child make a list of favorite healthy lunch items to post on the refrigerator.
  • Take your child to the grocery store and let them help to choose what goes in the cart (to a certain extent).  This will help to promote feelings of responsibility and empowerment.
  • Designate a part of your kitchen as the “lunch packing station” and spend time with your kids the night before helping to get their lunch ready for the next day.

2.  Pack Healthy Foods and Keep it Fun

  • Turn healthy foods into fun foods by using cooking cutters to make shapes out of bread, deli meat, cheese, or a melon-baller for fruit.
  • Create a theme for the day and have all the food in their lunch relate to a theme.  For creative lunch theme ideas, visit ParentMap.
  • Steer clear of proceeds food that tend to have nutrients stripped out and extra sugar added. Instead include: whole wheat bread or tortillas, lean proteins like turkey and chicken, low-fat dairy such as yogurt and cheese sticks, fresh fruits and vegetables, and dips that contain healthy fats such as hummus, guacamole and nut butters.

3.  Make Sure to Incorporate All the Food Groups

  • Use MyPlate as a visual to help you structure what should go into your child’s lunch.  

4.  Encourage Hydration

  • Skip sweetened beverages.  Did you know a 12 ounces can of soda can contain up to 10 teaspoons of sugar and many fruit juices may have much more than that!  Instead, pack low-fat milk or water.
  • It’s recommended that school-age children drink between 6-8 cups of water per day (even more in hot weather or if their activity level is high!).
  • Let your child pick out their favorite water bottle and encourage them to drink the whole thing at least twice at school.
  • If the “flavor” of water is too boring for them, throw in a few pieces of frozen fruit to sweeten it up – and keep it cooler.

With these tips in mind, you and your child are ready to start the school year off on the right foot. Good luck and happy packing!!

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