Did you know the number one food served in cafeteria is chicken fingers and French fries? More and more schools are serving healthier cafeteria options thanks to programs like Let’s Move, but this doesn’t necessarily mean your child will chose the grilled chicken over a the staple French fries at lunch time. If you want to make sure your child is eating healthy, brown bag it!
Here are 10 fun and healthy lunch ideas for kids.
1. Hide the veggies
You may never know if your child really eats that lettuce or tomato on his or her ham sandwich. Instead of placing veggies on regular sandwich bread, try making a wrap. Just use a low calorie spread, add the lettuce and veggies and then meat and cheese and roll. The veggies will be out of sight and out of mind- plus much harder to pick out!
2. Always include Dessert
Who doesn’t love dessert? Seriously! Kids especially love a sweet treat. Reward your child for eating a healthy lunch with a healthy dessert. Whip up some chocolate chip cookies using whole wheat flour, replace the eggs with flax and the vegetable oil with coconut oil. Add in some dried fruit or dark chocolate for a little extra sweetness.
3. Spaghetti Swap
Kids love slurping noodles. Why not make those noodles healthy? Zucchini noodles are healthy new take on classic starchy noodles. Make the noodles at home the night before by using a potato or julienne peeler. Top with pesto, marinara, or your favorite sauce. Add in some chicken for a protein packed meal.
4. Turkey Roll Ups
Make lunch fun by letting your child “create” his or her own lunch. Just include a few slices of turkey, cheese and veggies. Add in some whole grain pretzels to help spear the rolls together. This time, it’s ok to play with your food!
5. Breakfast for Lunch
Brunch isn’t just for weekends. Switch things up and pack breakfast items for lunch. Hard boiled eggs are easy to make and are a great source of protein. Bake some whole grain muffins or try a whole grain sprouted bagel with almond butter spread.
6. Make it Sweet
Protein packed and sweet all in one? We’ll eat to that! Try a strawberries and cream sandwich or bagel. Make a healthier spread by mixing light cream cheese with Greek yogurt. Top with sliced strawberries, bananas and a drizzle of honey.
7. Create A Recipe Book
If your child doesn’t like tuna, he or she is not going to eat tuna. Create a recipe book with your child of all his favorite things. This will make it much easier to chose meals you know he is going to eat and enjoy. No more wasted food or a hungry kid!
8. Fast Food Redo
We’re sure you wouldn’t have any problems getting your child to eat fast food chicken nuggets. Make your own healthy chicken “nuggets” at home by baking chicken strips instead of frying them. Just mix bread crumbs with your desired seasons, dip in eggs whites, and bake as you normally would. Your kids will get the crispy, chewy chicken nugget taste, without the added sodium and fat.
9. Include Your Kids
Have your child participate in making lunch the night before. Have he or she pick one of each of the food groups in include in his or her lunch box. Soup is also a great meal to make as family. Let you child pick out the vegetables for the soup. Kids love to help in the kitchen.
10. Freebie Fridays
We are a big proponent of the 80/20 rule. Why not use this rule for your kids as well? After a week of healthy meals, let your child pick what he or she would like to eat for Friday. One slice of pizza or a sub sandwich won’t ruin a perfectly healthy week.
Healthy lunches don’t have to be boring anymore. Give these 10 tips a try for more nutritious lunches and a healthier child.
Christensen, Jenn. (September 29, 2010). Schools struggle to feed kids healthy food. CNN. Retrieved July 2nd, 2013 from http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/09/29/school.food.investigation/index.html