I wish it was as easy as peanut butter on whole wheat alongside some milk, cheese and crackers, an apple, and a fruit squish ‘em.
My kids are picky eaters, and as they get ready to head back to school I’m not looking forward to trying to find ways to pack a healthy lunch that fits nutritional requirements, their picky palettes, and the school rules.
If you’re not looking forward to packing those super cute back to school lunch bags, here are some things to remember about how to pack a healthy lunch. Which hopefully leads to some new ideas.
The USDA Food and Nutrition Service offers a great idea on getting variety in your meals. Think of things like texture, color, and aroma. Things that smell different, are bright, and have a different feel will help you build towards a diverse diet with a range of nutrients.
Get your kids involved in the meal planning by helping them understand the things that go in to a balanced meal. ChooseMyPlate.gov has printables your kids can color to learn about meal planning, and ideas to get them involved in creating new recipes for fruits and veggies. There’s also a fun video game called Blast Off! that will get them involved in balancing their nutrition.
According to Canada’s Food Guide, kids 4-8 years old need 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 4 servings of grains, 2 of dairy, and 1 of meat.
The guide encourages fresh fruit and vegetables over juices, and suggests that water be the main source of fluid throughout the day.
You don’t have to give them all the servings at once either. For example 2 eggs makes up a meat serving for the day. If they have a hardboiled egg at lunch, and 1 oz of chicken at dinner, they’ve met the daily requirements.
Offering a wide variety that fits the balance of the nutrition guide is the key to successfully getting your kids to have a healthy lunch. Baby carrots, crackers, cheese, cucumber slices, raisins, or grapes are all things that fit easily into Ziploc bags and can offer your child a chance to graze amongst their favorites to get all they need during the day.
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