Keeping your kids healthy and well-nourished can be a challenge, especially if they’re picky eaters. But with a little creativity and effort, you can make sure your children are getting the nutrients they need by packing healthy and delicious lunches for them to enjoy at school. Here are some tips to help you create the most nutritious lunches for kids.
1. Ensure Food Doesn’t Need to Be Refrigerated
Food products with oil and fatty acids will go rancid if they aren’t packaged properly, so it’s best to avoid packing these types of foods in your child’s lunch. Instead, focus on packing items that don’t need to be refrigerated, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, and nuts. Ensuring your child’s lunch doesn’t need to be refrigerated will also help you avoid any potential food safety issues.
2. Include a Balance of Foods
A nutritious lunch should include a balance of foods from all the major food groups. This means including items like lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and dairy. Including a variety of foods will ensure your child develops in a healthy way physically and mentally. Most kids don’t develop the ability to reason until the age of five. Until then, it’s important to provide them with a variety of foods so they can explore new tastes and textures, have foods that promote brain function, and support their growth through nutritious and protein-packed foods.
3. Make It Fun
Kids are more likely to eat their lunch if it’s fun and visually appealing. Get your child involved in the lunch-packing process by letting them choose their favorite fruits and vegetables, or help you prepare sandwiches. Use cookie cutters to create fun shapes out of their sandwiches, or pack fruit kabobs with different colored fruits. Be creative and have fun with it! In addition, take advantage if your child attends private school. Around one in ten kids attends a private school. If this is the case for your kids, their school might have a nutritionist on staff that you can consult to get ideas for packing the most nutritious lunches possible and help you incorporate fun ideas!
4. Think Beyond the Traditional Lunch
When you think of packed lunches, you might automatically think of a sandwich, some chips, and a drink. However, there are endless possibilities when it comes to packing a healthy and delicious lunch for your child. Get creative and think outside the box when packing your child’s lunch. Consider packing a wrap with different fillings, sushi, quesadillas, or even a simple salad. There are endless possibilities when it comes to packed lunches, so get creative!
5. Include a Variety of Colored Foods
When packing a nutritious lunch for your child, it’s important to include a variety of colored foods. Fruits and vegetables come in all different colors, each with their own unique nutritional benefits. Including a variety of colored fruits and vegetables will ensure your child is getting a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
6. Make It Easy to Eat
If you want your child to actually eat the lunch you’ve packed for them, it’s important to make it easy for them to do so. This means avoiding foods that are difficult to eat or require a lot of utensils. Instead, pack finger foods that your child can easily eat with their hands. Fruits, vegetables, sandwiches cut into bite-sized pieces, and wraps are all good examples of easy-to-eat foods.
7. Incorporate Different Cultures
When packing a lunch for your child, consider incorporating foods from different cultures. This is a great way to introduce your child to new flavors and other healthy ingredients. In addition, it’s a good opportunity to teach them about other cultures and the importance of diversity. Try packing a lunch with sushi, hummus and pita bread, or an Italian-inspired lunch with a whole grain wrap, mozzarella cheese, and roasted tomatoes.
Using these creative ideas will help you pack the most nutritious lunch possible for your child. Remember to have a balance of foods, make it fun, and think outside the box!