You know that famous question you ask yourself everyday... What am I going to pack my kiddos for lunch today? Yes, that question. Let’s talk about it!
It doesn’t have to be a struggle to pack your child’s lunch. Making a healthy lunch can be made quick and simple. YOU can make a healthy, nutritious lunch your growing child loves by simply educating yourself and knowing basic nutrition. Being prepared is half the battle.
MyPlate is a great template for packing your little one’s meal.
MyPlate can help you create a meal that includes the 5 major food groups. These 5 food groups help your child to grow and learn, build a healthy immune system, and maintain enough energy to conquer the world!
Their plate should contain half fruits and vegetables, a healthy protein, a whole grain item, and a dairy option. A great tip is to offer water to drink and a dairy food rather than just milk. Providing a variety of foods is a great way to keep them interested in their lunchtime meal.
Why is proper nutrition important for your growing little one?
Food is their fuel for energy to make it through the day!
How many times have you heard someone say, “Keep your children active to help prevent child obesity and diabetes!”? Well, staying active means nothing without proper nutrition. The more active your child is, the more fuel they need!
The 5 Food Groups
broccoli, kale, carrots, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, avocado, corn, green peas, hummus, green beans, celery, cucumbers
blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, 100% fruit juices, watermelon, apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, raisins
Whole grains: brown rice, oatmeal, popcorn, whole wheat bread, whole wheat cereal, whole wheat crackers
bagels, biscuits, cornbread, crackers, tortillas, pancakes, pasta, pizza crust, white bread, white rice
lean cut meats (beef, pork, sausage, ham), poultry (chicken & turkey), deli meats (turkey & ham), bean burgers, veggie burgers, black beans, hummus, eggs, almonds, cashews, peanut butter, salmon, tuna
milk, almond milk, yogurt, pudding, smoothies, cheese
These foods are just a few examples of healthy choices your little one will love! Try broiling, steaming or even grilling some of these foods to see what option your child will enjoy most.
Keep it simple, know your foods.
Offer water instead of sugary drinks. Children can fill up on sugary drinks and have no appetite to eat the foods their body needs.
A cold glass of milk is also a great way to quench your child’s thirst after a day at school. The calcium that milk provides can help build strong bones. However, calcium and vitamin D go together like peanut butter and jelly! Vitamin D helps your bones use the calcium in your body.
Calcium rich foods - yogurt, cheese, OJ, and almonds
Vitamin D rich foods - milk, tuna, and salmon
Getting Them Interested
YOU are your child’s health role model! Show your child how to make nutrition and cooking in the kitchen fun.
Get creative! Let them go shopping with you, help prepare dinner, cut foods into fun shapes, create their own trail mix snacks. Let them measure the ingredients, add them in, and mash them up. Let them get involved.
Pinterest can be a parent’s best friend when it comes to getting creative. Just remember to make it fun for you and your child. Not only is this a great way to teach your child all about nutrition but also to just spend quality time with your child.
And don’t be afraid to try new foods yourself! After all, you are your child’s health role model.
“I Don’t Have Time for That”
Creating a healthy lunch your little one loves does not have to be rocket science!!
Be prepared. Pick a day during the week where you prepare lunch for the entire week. Do as much as you can in advance to help save a little time in your morning routine.
Great quick lunch options when you’re running late include:
Example 1 - peanut butter sandwich (protein), banana & orange slices (fruit), carrots (vegetable), whole wheat crackers (grain), and a glass of milk (dairy)
Example 2 - deli meat: turkey or ham (protein), strawberries (fruit), broccoli & tomatoes (vegetable), whole wheat bread (grain), cheese stick (dairy), and a glass of water.
Fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables are all smart choices.
Try to start every day with a whole grain option. Whole grains with more fiber will help your child feel fuller longer. Start every day the whole grain way.
This is a great opportunity to talk with your family about nutrition, try new foods together and get everyone involved in making meal times healthier.