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

 

Fruggies

Choose colorful fresh fruits or vegetables. Fruits can be dried or canned in light syrup or their own juice. 

Examples:

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)

 

Dairy

Choose products made from organic cows milk, soy, almond or coconut milk based.

Examples:

Milk (unflavored or flavored) 

String Cheese 

Natural cheese chunks

Greek Yogurt

Low-fat cottage cheese

 

Protein

Choose lean meats and limit processed choices.

Examples:

Deli turkey, chicken, lean ham (no nitrites or fillers)

Grilled chicken breast, rotisserie chicken

Tuna, smoked salmon

Nut butter

Hummus

Bean & lentils

 

Grains

Choose 100% whole grain as much as possible.

Examples:

Whole grain bread

Whole grain tortillas

Whole grain crackers

Whole grain tortilla chips

Quinoa/Farro/Barley

Whole grain pasta/orzo

 

Healthy Fat 

Examples:

Olives (black or green)

Nuts or seeds (almonds, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.)

Avocado/guacamole minis

 

 

Smart Packing Tips:

Save Money. 

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! 

 

Homemade Uncrustables. 

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.

 

 

Food Safety. 

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.

 

Reduce Waste. 

Include a cloth napkin and reusable utensils to cut down on waste. 

 

Fight Germs. 

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

Black olives

Milk

 

Turkey & cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread

Lettuce & Tomato

Mixed Berries

1 ounce nuts

Milk

 

Grilled Chicken Caesar Wrap (chicken caesar salad wrapped in a whole grain tortilla)

Sugarsnap peas/Strawberries

1 ounce nuts

Milk

 

Lean ham rolled up with fun toothpicks

Chunks of Natural Cheese

Whole Grain tortilla chips & guacamole mini

Bell pepper slices 

Grapes

Milk