We all want healthy lunches for our children. But in a busy world, achieving this is difficult. So, here are some simple, healthy lunch solutions for our kids.
We all want healthy meals for our children. But in a busy world, achieving this is sometimes easier said than done, and so we look for simple food solutions for kids’ lunches.
Some companies put together pre-made lunch kits. While convenient, these kits are often not a healthy choice. For instance, Lunchmates, a popular lunch kit, contains food very high in salt and fat. The Turkey+Ham with Swiss+Cheddar has a whopping 1,940 mg of sodium, well above the daily maximum recommended for young children (1,200 mg). With only one gram of fibre, this meal won’t go far toward meeting many of your child’s dietary needs.
Making It Right
Want to know how to make lunches convenient without resorting to prepackaged options? Here are some tips.
- Prepare and organize school lunches for the entire week on Sunday.
- Ask your children to help out—let them choose favourite fruits, veggies, and sandwich ingredients. Assign them the role of assistant chef.
- Pick fun foods–if kids can squirt it, dip it, or sip it, they will love it.
- Use the rainbow approach–make meals healthy by including veggies of differing colours.
- Remember fresh is best–try to limit prepackaged foods, and include plenty of raw veggies in lunches.
Keep in mind that a child’s metabolism is high when he or she is growing. Dr. Demory-Luce, a nutritionist at the Bayer College of Medicine, recommends that a lunch should provide one-third of the daily intake of vitamins, minerals, and calories for kids.
- a source of protein: meat, eggs, beans, legumes, tofu, or seeds
- a source of calcium: milk (substitute fortified soy, almond, or rice milk), figs, cheese, yogourt, or tahini
- vegetables and fruit, especially dark green veggies: broccoli, spinach, romaine lettuce and orange veggies: carrots, sweet potatoes
- two servings of grains or bread: pasta, rice, bread, oatmeal, or couscous (brown or whole grain versions are best)
- a treat
Treats That Aren’t Tricky
Treats are a big thing in children’s lunches. They’re the hot ticket item that often gets traded. The good news is, treats don’t have to be bad. Dried fruit, popcorn, whole grain crackers, granola, and homemade muffins or cookies are all good choices. Pumpkin bread (see link) is an easy treat for kids.
Cubed cooked chicken skewer with grape tomatoes and cucumber wedges
- Salad dressing as a dip
- Cheddar cheese
- Whole wheat crackers
- Fruit salad of diced banana and apple in low-fat vanilla yogourt
- Slice of pumpkin loaf (with jam or honey on the side)
Whole wheat tuna wrap with low-fat salad dressing, spinach, and sliced tomato
- Carton of milk with a fun straw
- Sliced peaches
- Stringless snap peas
- Homemade trail mix (multigrain cereal, raisins, almonds, sunflower seeds, pretzel sticks, and chocolate chips)
Whole wheat pita pizza with chicken, diced veggies (mushrooms, tomato, broccoli, and peppers–arranged to make a face) and cheese
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Granola (to blend with applesauce if they want)
- Low-fat, low-sodium cottage cheese
Whole wheat salmon sandwich with sliced cucumber and alfalfa sprouts
- Baby carrots and celery with low-fat salad dressing or hummus
- Low-fat yogourt
- Oatmeal cookie
Whole wheat quesadilla (cut into wedges) with extra-lean ground beef, corn, tomato, peppers, and cheese
- Salsa and sour cream
- Red pepper slices
- Cheese cubes
- Air popped popcorn sprinkled with Parmesan cheese
These are just a few healthy school lunch choices. Take time to discover more options on your own, keeping in mind our suggestions for what to include in an easy, healthy lunch.