Back to School
Going back to school can be an exciting and stressful time for both you and your kids. It can be helpful to have simple things like lunches packed and ready to go ahead of time. It is also important to have lunches that include healthy and fun options for your kids so that they are getting the nutrients they need to grow strong and have energy that lasts through the school day.
To make school lunches exciting and interesting for kids so that they want to eat the food you provide, it is helpful to have a divided lunch box that allows you to provide multiple options for your kids to eat. In addition, it also helps divide the food so that it can be kept safe until your child is ready to eat it. We suggest something like this.
When using lunch boxes with dividers it also allows you to easily provide your child with healthy food groups. It is recommended that children get a whole grain, fruit, vegetable, and protein with each meal. For example, in a lunch box with 3 compartments, a healthy lunch can look like the following: a turkey sandwich using whole grain bread, a cut up piece of fruit like apples or oranges, and a vegetable like carrots or celery with ranch or hummus. It is important to provide your kids with their favorite foods within these food groups, so that they are more likely to eat their whole lunch. School lunches are not the time to introduce new foods, since you are not there to encourage and provide praise when they do try a new food.
Healthy Lunch Ideas
- Peanut butter, apple, and raisin sandwich – start with 2 pieces of whole grain bread and spread natural peanut butter on both pieces. Add thinly sliced apple pieces and raisins to each side on top of the peanut butter. Then put the bread pieces together to make a sandwich.
- ABC Salad – eating fruits and veggies can be as easy as ABC – apples, bananas, and cheese. Start with a lettuce your child likes and add diced apples, sliced bananas, and your child’s favorite cheese. In a separate container or lunch box compartment place a vinaigrette salad dressing to provide healthy fats.
- PB and J on a Stick – start by making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich using whole grain bread. Cut the sandwich into small cubes. Next, cut apples into cubes and slice a banana. Using bamboo skewers with no pointed end, alternate the pieces of banana, apple, and peanut butter and jelly cubes on the stick.
- Chicken Chili – chili is a great way to ensure your child is getting vegetables and protein. Make chili ahead of time and use it for multiple lunches or for dinner and lunches. Use 1 pound ground chicken (cooked), 1 can black beans, 1 sweet onion (chopped), 1 can tomato sauce, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 can sweet corn. Combine ingredients and heat through until all ingredients are tender.
- Mini Macaroni and Cheese Bites – make macaroni and cheese using whole grain pasta and a reduced fat cheese sauce using 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons of butter, ½ tsp onion powder, ½ tsp garlic powder, 1 ¾ cup 2% milk, 2 cups reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, and 1 cup reduced fat Swiss cheese. Start by adding the butter, flour, garlic powder, and onion powder to a pan and whisk until smooth. Add the milk and cheese to the pan over medium heat and cook until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in ½ cup breadcrumbs, 2 large eggs, and ¾ cups of biscuit mix, and mix. Add in cooked whole grain macaroni and toss to coat. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the macaroni mixture into an oil sprayed mini muffin pan. Bake until golden brown, or about 8-10 minutes at 425 degrees.