Pack a healthy lunch with MyPlate

MyPlate can serve as a guide for lunch ideas that are easy to pack, taste good and provide the proper nutrition that school-aged children need to perform well in school.

There is research to support the claim that children who eat well do better in school! If you have school-aged children, chances are you have packed them a lunch. Packing a lunch is a good way to provide a healthy meal for your child and it’s easy if you use the MyPlate from the USDA as a guide to help you.

MyPlate was developed in 2010 to help promote and illustrate the five food groups using a familiar image, a place setting for a meal! This tool provides information about the different food groups, healthy eating tips, physical exercise and resources that focus on making healthy choices.

If you are looking for ideas on how to make your child’s lunches more healthful, try these suggestions:

  • Provide calcium-rich foods. Many children don’t consume the recommended servings of dairy foods each day. Encourage your child to buy milk at school. Yogurt, string cheese and pudding made from low-fat milk can also count as a milk serving.
  • Focus on fruits. Fresh fruits such as apples, bananas and pears are loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals. Another idea is to pack dried fruits such as raisins and cherries. All of these options travel well and are nutritious.
  • Vary the veggies. Add vegetables such as spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers or peppers to sandwiches. Fresh vegetables taste better when they are cold and most children like to dip them in low-fat ranch dressing, peanut butter or salsa.
  • Pack nutritious treats. If your child is used to having a daily sweet treat, try packing something that is healthy. Yogurt with fruit and/or granola, trail mixes with nuts and dried fruits, and granola bars fill in the need for something sweet. They also provide the energy and nutrition that growing children need.

Schools are also a great resource and offer lunch programs that focus on good nutrition. Visit the USDA to learn more about school lunch programs.

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