The Secret Formula to Build a Healthy Lunch Box in 5 Easy Steps
Classes started this week! For many of you parents, this means better routines and more peace of mind at home. For others, this represents the sad reality that summer is over. For me, going back to school is a very busy time as families take advantage of this time to improve their children's nutrition. This involves school lunches. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing the school lunch box come back with all the same food! I constantly receive questions about school lunches or lunchboxes: What foods should I include? How do I make my children eat her lunch box? And if my child is a picky eater, what do I include? For this reason, I have created a simple formula that will help you put together a healthy lunch box in 5 steps.
There is no such thing as a "perfect" lunch box. Some days, the school lunch box can be more creative than others. The main point is to make sure that lunch boxes include healthy foods and that your children can enjoy them. Remember that schools give little time for lunch, so the food has to be easy to eat. Consider the following strategies:
- Cut-up food and that's easy to eat - Think about including pre-chopped fruits and vegetables. Did you know that the simple act of cutting fruits and vegetables increases consumption in children?
- Get the right eqquipment– It all starts with having the right lunchboxes. I recommend that you look for packages with at least 2-3 divisions, that way you are forced to include other types of food.
- Get your kids involved- It sounds basic and it is. Have a conversation with your children about foods they liked and what they want to eat. Ask them to choose a fruit or a vegetable. Better yet, teach them to pack their own lunch the night before. You can download a sheet that will teach your child what foods to include here: Lunch Box Printable Guide.
The printable guide "Learn to pack your healthy lunch box" looks like this:
This guide will help you plan in advance your kids lunchboxes for the week.
My Secret Formula to Make a Healthy Lunch Box
1. Include Proteins
Proteins are extremely important in children as they help the growth of bones and muscles. Also, this type of food helps to fill your children during the day. Proteins are also key in the growth of your children's bones and muscles. It also includes proteins of non-animal origin. Try the following options:
- Turkey patties
- Peanut butter or sunflower seeds
- Chickpea cream/Hummus
- Mozzarella cheese
2. Include Whole Grains
Who said lunchbox has to be a boring sandwich? Think about other options like whole grain crackers, different types of bread like pita bread, whole grain muffins or mini bagels. Includes high-fiber wholemeal flours such as:
- Wholemeal bread
- High fiber cereal
- Whole wheat waffles
- Tortilla chips with flaxseed
3. Add a Fruit
Nobody likes to eat a mashed banana. Better opt for harder and easier to eat fruits. Dried fruit is also a great option as they are easy to transport. Includes the following options:
- Tangerine (peeled)
- Chopped Grapes
- Dried Cranberries
- Dried Apples
4. Don't Forget About Veggies
Vegetables are full of fiber, soluble vitamins and water. This will help them feel satisfied throughout the day. Remember to include easy-to-eat vegetables or consider adding dips. Don't overwhelm your children by adding a large amount either. With 2-3 carrots it is perfect. If your child is not a big fan of vegetables, then make sure to include a fruit. Remember that school is not the ideal place to experiment with new foods or where your kids go to try new foods. Try these fun vegetables:
- Carrots with ranch
- Celery with chickpea cream/Hummus
- Cherry tomatoes with cheese
- Red/Green peppers
- Cucumbers with lemon
5. Make it Extra Special by Adding a Fun Food
Yes, lunchboxes can be fun too. My philosophy focuses on balance. I don't believe in forbidding food or giving certain foods as rewards. If we teach our children to eat varied and balanced from an early age, we will avoid many problems in the future. Try the following ideas:
- 1 Square of chocolate
- Chocolate almonds
- Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie
I wish all of you a very happy school year. Remember the more involved your children are with the lunch boxes, the more successful they will be! Have a nice meal!
PS: If you would like to keep looking for additional ideas to make healthy lunch boxes for your kids, here are my previous articles that could give you extra help: