Packing A Healthy School Lunch

Packing a school lunch can be a task when you want your child to eat healthy. Paula Peters, extension specialist and associate professor of foods and nutrition at Kansas State University, offers some back-to-school lunch tips. We have added our own suggestions to hers. Let your child help pack the lunch or help choose some things that will be included in the lunch. Children tend to eat better if they have a say in what they eat.

*There are many items on the market that are specially created for lunches, such as individual servings of yogurt, puddings and string cheese, as well as soy based alternatives. Leftovers of their favorite foods make a fun alternative to the everyday meal. Our Deli has egg rolls, delicious roasted veggies, potato and spinach knishes, potato pancakes, and sushi.

*Be concerned with food safety when you’re packing lunches. If you send something that needs to be kept cold, use an insulated lunch box with an ice pack, or try freezing a juice box and put it in the lunch box to keep the food cold throughout the morning. It will gradually melt so the child can drink it at lunchtime.

*Carrots, organic baby carrots, celery sticks, apples, oranges, bananas, and sandwiches are typical foods to pack in a lunch. Other things to try are leftover pizza or bagels topped with jelly or peanut butter. Add Health Valley natural granola bars, bags of raisins or other dried fruits such as apple rings, trail mix or yogurt covered raisins, rice cakes, or energy bars.

*Pre-made lunch snacks are very handy, but can be relatively high in salt and fats, so you wouldn’t want to send those every day with your child. Also, you should supplement the pre-made lunch with a vegetable or a piece of fruit.

*Make sure your child is drinking enough water. Encourage your child to drink water from the water fountain, or send some cold bottled water in the lunch with your child in the morning. It is difficult keeping young children hydrated. They play hard during recess, they’re not thinking about keeping enough fluid in them and they may not even feel thirsty, but we want to encourage them to take a drink of water.

Source: Kansas State University News Services, Manhattan, KS, August 13, 1998.

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