Get your child ready for school with fun, healthy lunch ideas

Break out of the boredom of repetitive packed lunches for school. Try these easy techniques to make sure your child’s lunch is healthy and exciting.

With summer winding down, kids and parents are beginning to think about getting back into the daily school routine. One of those daily routines includes the challenge of packing lunches. If you’re like me, this job can be tedious and after a while, I struggle to find lunches that are fun and healthy each day.

Sandwiches are a standby for lunches. Peanut butter or meat-filled are the predictable choices that, after a while, become boring. Sandwiches can become exciting by changing the filling or presentation. Try some of these sandwich-enhancing tips:

  • Use a colorful wrap or a whole wheat pita instead of bread. Stuff the wrap with lean meat, low-fat cheese and add some veggies.
  • Make sandwiches into fun shapes by using a cookie cutter.
  • Pack whole grain crackers with a sandwich filler to let your child “build their own sandwich”

Another way to add excitement to your child’s lunch is to move beyond the sandwich and offer a different type of main course:

  • Heat up low-sodium soups in the morning and place in a thermos. This can be a great way to add more vegetables to your child’s meal.
  • Cook once – eat twice. Recreate last night’s dinner into a new lunch. Chop up last night’s chicken and roll it in a tortilla or serve it on a salad (if your child likes that). Or just serve up of last night’s dinner in a microwave dish that your child can reheat at school.

Power up their lunch by skipping the high-fat, high-sodium chips and selecting fruits or vegetables loaded with nutrients that many kids miss each day.

  • Put in the original fast food in their lunches – whole fruit like a banana, pear or peach.
  • Slice up the apple in the morning (dip in lemon juice so it won’t brown) and bag. Serve with peanut butter for dipping.
  • Trail mix is a weekend project you and your children can make together. Add dried fruit, nuts, pretzels, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips and mix. Bag them up for an energizing side dish or after-school treat.
  • Chop up vegetables the night before and pack them in the morning. If your children need a dip for their veggies, try hummus or low-fat ranch dressing.

The Internet is filled with great ideas on how to zest up your child’s lunch. MyPlate is a great resource for information on serving sizes and ways to make sure your children get the best possible nutrition. You can also tap into social media like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter to join groups with other parents who share ways to add variety and health to their children’s lunches. Select ideas that emphasize increased fruit and vegetable consumption, increased fiber and lean meats. These choices will make sure your child gets the nutrients needed to power her up all day.

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