3 Ways to Get Out of the Lunch-Packing Rut
Make Lunch into Brunch
Mini pancakes filled with peanut butter, jelly and banana slices
Replace traditional ingredients with the unexpected for a fun twist! Sandwiches don’t always need to be held together with two pieces of bread – consider using waffles or cucumber slices. In this lunch, I’ve paired the mini pancake sandwiches with kiwi halves, grape tomatoes and pretzels. Here’s a quick tip for eating kiwi: put a spoon in the lunchbox for kids to scoop it right out!
Did you know: One serving of Kiwi (~2 small Kiwi) delivers nearly three times the vitamin C than an orange and the same amount of potassium as a medium banana. Cherry tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, an antioxidant with many health benefits such as improved heart health.
Pinwheel pasta with tuna
Protein is one of the key food groups for sustaining energy and brain power at school. To keep it interesting, try to rotate between cheese, lunchmeat, fish and yogurt. In this lunch, I’ve added tuna and peas to the pasta and served it with watermelon stars, baby carrots and whole grain crackers. Remember: If you’re trying out a food that’s new for your child, give it a try at home first.
Did you know: Everyone in the family should be eating at least 2 servings of seafood each week. Seafood is critical for brain and eye development, and a recent study showed that canned or pouch tuna is the most affordable way to reap the health benefits of fish.
Eat the Rainbow
Heart-shaped ham and cheese sandwich paired with colorful produce
Excite your children about fruits and vegetables by including a variety of colors. Not only does color add enthusiasm to a meal, it also indicates more nutrition. In this lunchbox, I’ve combined berries with sweet potatoes (another great source of vitamin C!). Celery sticks were filled with nut butter and raisins to resemble “ants on a log.”
Did you know: A lunchbox filled with foods of different colors typically means a variety of vitamins and minerals are present.
Don’t Forget to Include Your Kids on the Packing
One of the best ways to ensure your child maintains healthy eating habits is to involve them in the kitchen. Empower your children by allowing them to make selections of what is to be included in their own lunchbox. Provide them with a narrowed down list of choices and then let them decide on the final option and get in on the action! Children will be more excited to eat something they have helped prepare. Allow them to spread peanut butter, compile a sandwich, or spoon out yogurt. Teaching children how to prepare foods at a younger age will help to set a foundation for healthier habits in the future.
– Kristen Smith, R.D.
About Kristen Smith, R.D.: Kristen Smith is a mom to a two-year old son and a registered dietitian with a passion for sharing health and nutrition. She has over 10 years of experience as a registered dietitian working in a multitude of clinical settings. She is a consultant to the National Fisheries Institute, helping to educate the public on the health benefits of seafood. You can learn more at her blog, www.360familynutrition.org