by Judy Porter, Registered Dietitian and Director of Wellness for FitLivin
Kids are most active physically and mentally during school and in most cases right afterwards if they play sports. Therefore, the mid-day meal is an opportunity to provide quality fuel to help them stay focused and perform at their best. Lunchtime choices can make a significant difference in your child’s total daily nutrient intake.
My kids are getting to the age that they can make their own lunch so I came up with the following simple formula to make it easy for them to prep their own the night before or morning of.
Healthy Lunch Formula
2 Fruggies + 1-2 Dairy + 1-2 Protein + 1 Grain + 1 Healthy Fat
Choose colorful fresh fruits or vegetables. Fruits can be dried or canned in light syrup or their own juice.
Fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries or raspberries
Apple Slices, clementines, banana
Chopped melon (watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew)
Canned pineapple, apricots, mandarin oranges, peaches
Raisins, dried cherries, dried cranberries, fruit leather (made with natural fruit/fruit juice)
Baby carrots, celery sticks, cucumber slices, grape tomatoes, sugarsnap peas
Salad (leafy greens and veggies of choice)
Choose products made from organic cows milk, soy, almond or coconut milk based.
Milk (unflavored or flavored)
Natural cheese chunks
Low-fat cottage cheese
Choose lean meats and limit processed choices.
Deli turkey, chicken, lean ham (no nitrites or fillers)
Grilled chicken breast, rotisserie chicken
Tuna, smoked salmon
Bean & lentils
Choose 100% whole grain as much as possible.
Whole grain bread
Whole grain tortillas
Whole grain crackers
Whole grain tortilla chips
Whole grain pasta/orzo
Olives (black or green)
Nuts or seeds (almonds, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.)
Smart Packing Tips:
Make your wallet smile by limiting the use of the pre-portioned packaged foods. You pay a pretty price for that convenience. For example: 1 (6-ounce) container of Greek yogurt costs $1 on average but you can get a 64 ounce container of the same Greek yogurt for under $5!
My kids love peanut butter sandwiches so I make my own “uncrustables” and freeze for convenient usage.
- To prepare: take two slices of whole grain bread then add your filling (peanut butter, just fruit jelly or smashed fruit such as berries or bananas and crimp.) I have a crimper that I purchased from Pampered Chef but you can just take off the crust and crimp with a fork if you don't have one. Make a bunch in advance so the kids can grab out of the freezer that morning and they’ll be thawed and ready to go by lunch time.
Pack for food safety using reusable ice-packs for cold foods, a thermos to hold warm foods and a variety of different sized containers to separate different foods.
Include a cloth napkin and reusable utensils to cut down on waste.
Remind your child to always wash her hands before and after he/she eats.
Warm their Heart.
Sneak in fun notes from time to time to brighten their day. This is especially a great way to ease stress during exam weeks or at time their feeling overwhelmed.
Healthy Lunch Meals
PB&J sandwich on whole grain (homemade uncrushable)
6 ounces Greek yogurt
Mandarin Oranges/Cucumber slices
Turkey & cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread
Lettuce & Tomato
1 ounce nuts
Grilled Chicken Caesar Wrap (chicken caesar salad wrapped in a whole grain tortilla)
1 ounce nuts
Lean ham rolled up with fun toothpicks
Chunks of Natural Cheese
Whole Grain tortilla chips & guacamole mini
Bell pepper slices