Give your child’s lunch bag a makeover
Fun, lunch bag makeover for young children.
Do you prepare a school lunch for your young child? If you are a parent, grandparent or caregiver who is in charge of the day-to-day lunch preparation, consider the amount of fruits and vegetables that is in your child’s lunch bag.
Do you find it has little variety and color? If so, the first and simple step is to make half their lunch plate fruits and vegetables. According to United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) My Plate, children between the ages of 2- to 8-years-old should consume between 1-1.5 cups of vegetables and 1-1.5 cups of fruit a day. Michigan State University Extension encourages you to give your child’s fruit and vegetables a fun name to entice their interest. For example:
- Dark green vegetables: incredible super power broccoli
- Red and orange vegetables: x-ray vision carrots
- Beans and peas: super cool black beans
- Starchy vegetables: chewy fun cooked corn
- Fruit: berry delicious berries
A great companion for cut-up vegetables is a reduced fat dip. Before you package a dipping sauce, consider a taste test activity at home. Purchase two or three reduced fat dipping sauces from your local grocery store, place them on a plate with pretzels or half cut carrot pieces, and have your little ones taste to identify the dipping sauce most appealing to them. This activity not only prevents food waste, but is a great way to bond and have fun at home.
When preparing food, food safety measures for young children should always be enforced to avoid choking. Be sure to cut food into small pieces and avoid foods that are round – about the size of a nickel. To prevent choking, always cut fruits and vegetables, teach your child to chew slow and inform the teacher to keep an eye on your child during lunch hour. Also, avoid packing a food that may not be on the list of “approved” foods. To avoid this from happening, consult with the school administrator or food director about their food allergy policies.
The growth of your preschooler is crucial and important to their overall wellbeing. Many factors play a significant role in your child’s growth development, including: family history, gender, nutrition, sleep and health status. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s nutrition and growth development chart results, consult with their pediatrician.
Remember, the first and simple step to a colorful and healthier lunch bag for your child is to have them eat more fruits and vegetables!
MSU Extension offers various educational programs for adults, families and children that focus on lifestyle changes to promote healthy eating and physical activity. For more health and nutrition tips and for local classes, visit http://msue.anr.msu.edu/county.