Although it is summer, kids will be going back to school soon. With that comes the challenge of finding some good lunchbox meals that are healthy and that your child will eat. Not an easy task!
Some keys are to:
• Offer a variety of foods
• Offer fresh foods that appeal to kids
• Present the food in a fun way
Be sure to invite input from your kids about what they like. As a parent it is good to set up some rules about what types of foods can go in the lunchbox. Using the plate method (eatright.org) can be a good guide. A place to start is to include:
• a fruit or veggie serving
• a protein serving like cheese, meat, egg, yogurt
• a complex carb like bread, crackers, rice, tortilla
Ask your kids what foods in the food groups above that they like. To help introduce new foods or lunchbox ideas checkout the website 100daysofrealfood.com. There are great pictures of fun lunch ideas that you and your kids can look at together. Pinterest is a good resource for this too. Think about having your child help pack their lunch so they are more involved in the process.
It is helpful to have the right lunchbox supplies to keep hot food hot and cold food cold. If you can, get your kids small icepacks, a small thermos and a small reusable plastic container that does not leak. There are also many lunchboxes on the market that have divided containers inside (LunchBots, easylunchboxes, PlantBox). Another great option is a smoothie pop mold. You can use it to freeze yogurt, smoothies, or applesauce. They are partially defrosted by lunch and ready to eat.
Tips for fresh foods:
• Keep fresh cut veggies on hand for ease of packing
• Make your own trail mix using cheerios, nuts or seeds and raisins
• Make healthy muffins (recipe below) ahead of time and freeze
• Have hummus on hand to dress up any veggie or cracker
It is easy to turn to the pre-packaged lunches sold in the grocery store. But they are often high in fat, sugar and a mess of ingredients your child does not need. With a little thought, creativity and prep you can provide some great healthy options for your kids’ lunch.
Applesauce Cinnamon Muffins
1¼ cup oat bran cereal, uncooked
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup honey
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat 12 muffin cups with veggie oil or line with paper cups. In medium bowl combine oat bran, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, soda, and salt. In large bowl combine applesauce, honey, oil, egg and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients. Mix well. Stir in nuts. Fill muffin cups to almost full. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.