As a family child care provider, I was part of the national food program for over 15 years and participated in many trainings and guidance about feeding kids. One of my favorite college courses was a Child Nutrition course. In addition, I have four kids – two are teens (one of whom is in college) and two preschoolers. I am no longer packing school lunches – until next year! However, I do make sure that there are many nutritious choices available for my high school daughter to pack. When my older kids were younger it was a passion of mine to pack them healthy lunches that they enjoyed eating. My goal was always to include a protein, two fruits and/or veggies, a healthy grain and water plus something healthy for snack recess. They always had change in their lunch box to purchase milk if they wanted one.
If you plan on regularly packing lunch for your child, stock up on some reusable containers and a hot/cold container to send leftovers in as well – it will stay warm if you heat it up in the morning.
Here's a week of ideas to get you started!
Monday: Turkey and cheese tortilla roll up, grapes and carrots. I purchase wheat tortillas and lunch meat without nitrates.
Tuesday: Chef salad: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers packed in a reusable plastic container. In separate containers, pack shredded cheese, cut up ham and/or turkey, hardboiled egg, sunflower seeds and salad dressing. Add a few pita chips and it’s a full meal.
Wednesday: Homemade “lunchable:” wheat crackers, turkey or ham, cheese, cinnamon apples, broccoli. (Cinnamon apples: cut apples into wedges, place in container or bag and squirt with a little lemon juice and sprinkle with cinnamon. Seal and shake. For broccoli, I blanch enough for several servings and the kids eat it cold.)
Thursday: Pita pockets: choose a filling your child will enjoy (chicken salad, tuna, etc.) and let your child fill it themselves at lunchtime, snap peas and a cutie/tangerine.
Friday: Homemade “pizza lunchable:” using a compartment container add one half of whole wheat English Muffin, small container of pizza sauce (or leftover spaghetti sauce) and shredded cheese. Add some pineapple, cucumber and broccoli.
Do you have some lunch ideas to share with us? Leave a comment!