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Packing a Nutritious AND Delicious School Lunch

Packing a Nutritious AND Delicious School Lunch

McKenzie Pediatrics

2019

We all know that school lunches aren’t always nutritious or delicious. Okay, almost never! But packing a homemade lunch isn’t a guarantee or a healthy meal. In fact, sometimes they’re even less nourishing than meals served by the school lunch lady.

High sodium and high preservative “lunchables”, white bread sandwiches with high-sugar nut butter or high-chemical lunch “meat”, pre-packaged bags of nutritionally empty snack chips or crackers...in the name of convenience, parents often sacrifice nourishment, and contribute to the waste stream.

It doesn’t help that kids have so little time to actually eat at lunchtime. There’s certainly no time to use the microwave, or to put together multiple ingredients to make a larger whole. And there’s no time to fill up a water bottle, so what kid wouldn’t get the school-provided, ridiculously high in sugar chocolate milk for their lunch drink?

Nutritious lunches are crucial for strong minds and bodies. Kids are at school to learn, and learning is not helped by lunches high in sugar, high in processed carbohydrates, or low in calories simply because the kids won’t eat them and instead toss them away.

What follows is a list of healthy, packable lunch options. Pack it the night before, to avoid the morning rush. Purchase reusable, multi-compartment lunch containers (for example, Bentgo Kids)in order to easily pack a variety of foods. And be sure to mix things up...kids get bored easily. Ask your kids...what do they want for lunch? What do they throw away? Kids who participate in the food decisions are more likely to eat their lunch.

Fruits:

Banana, red or purple grapes, apple, pear, orange, peach, plum, madarin, kiwi, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, raisins, dates, no-added-sugar applesauce et al

Vegetables:

Carrot slices, celery sticks, red bell pepper slices, cherry tomatoes, tomatoes with basil & mozzarella, edamame, raw or steamed broccoli, olives, kale chips, cucumber slices, avocado slices sprinkled with lime juice, et al

Proteins:

Hard-boiled egg, homemade jerky, hummus or guacamole to dip with vegetables, string cheese, cheddar cheese cubes, Greek yogurt, lentils, rice, quinoa, low-sugar all-natural peanut butter or almond butter on whole-grain bread, trail mix (without sugary chocolate or “yogurt” balls), bean & cheese & avocado corn tortilla roll-up, tuna or chicken salad with diced vegetables et al.

Add-Ins:

Almond crackers, sweet potato crackers, plantain chips, whole grain crackers, lightly-salted unbuttered air=popped popcorn, original Cheerios, high-fiber real-fruit muffin, soup in a Thermos, a square of dark (>70% cacao) chocolate

Drinks:

Water bottle (flavor with a slice of lemon or orange or watermelon, or a strawberry), Honest brand juice box

Surprises:

Stickers, joke notes, love notes, colored pencil et al