ABCs of Back to School: Healthy Lunches

August 27, 2010

Aim for a balanced lunch:
* Three out of 5 food groups is a balanced meal
* Fruit or veggie at every meal
* Choose whole grains (popcorn, sandwich rounds, bagels, etc.)
* Read labels! Many fun foods can be done better so kids have a "cool" lunch they won't trade but packed with nutrition if you select carefully

What you can make better about it:

-These particular hard or soft shells offer fiber with saturated fat in check
-Two-percent milk, cheese offer same positive nutrition (calcium and protein, as examples) as full fat cheese but with less fat and calories
-Cook ahead! Make it fun to include the leftover cooked chicken from the night before
-Add in the extras -- veggies as part of every meal are fun on a taco (use darker greens, tomato or use salsa)
-Kids can tailor it right at lunch so nothing gets soggy in the locker
-Use reusable containers to save money over time and be earth friendly, too!

What's better:

-Packing your own controls fat in both crust and toppings
-Portion controlled
-Three food groups
-Whole grain crust with the "right' option - read ingredient lists!

What's better:

-For kids who are not lunch meat fans - Greek yogurt can provide more protein than regular yogurt, it's thicker and creamy (so kid friendly for dipping) and you can get it with less fat
-Cut up fruits with vanilla yogurt and peanut butter (or cheese cubes)
-Cut up veggies with plain yogurt mixed with salsa (and cheese cubes or lunch meat slices to wrap around celery, carrots, and bell pepper)
-Pretzel roads wrapped with lunch meat and cheese to dip in salsa
-Whole grain crackers topped with cheese and salsa or a yogurt based dip or peanut butter
-Popcorn to dip? Yes! - try it dipped in salsa, or even in spaghetti sauce with parmesan cheese for a very unique way to get a whole grain. Great for kids who love finger foods, Pack a spoon to try the popcorn one or you could use a pretzel rod, too (age appropriate, of course)

Click here for some healthy school lunch recipes

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