Once the campfire has gone out and the hot days of summer are behind them, school-age children begin wishing that summer could go on forever. Unfortunately, school beckons. This being the case, apart from the hustle and bustle of preparing for that first day back at school, comes another concern: what to prepare for their daily lunches? What would be nutritious lunch box meals for kids?
In order to aid parents with the desire to offer healthy lunches that will not only appeal to their kids and taste great but will also give them the needed energy to stay alert during class, here are some ideas to make that decision-making process a little easier.
Simple and Yet Delicious Sandwiches
Without a doubt, a good sandwich is as kid-friendly as they come. However, allowing the children this decision often ends up with empty calories on enriched bread. To counteract this temptation, consider tasty alternatives such as grilled chicken, lean deli meat such as roast beef or turkey, or even tuna salad with low-fat mayonnaise on a whole wheat high fiber bread such as a multi-grained English muffin or pita wrap.
You can add a slice of low-fat cheese along with lettuce, tomato or other fresh vegetables like cucumbers. To offset their tendency to turn up their noses at this delicious sandwich, include a fat-free pudding pack to feed their sweet tooth and make sure they (or you) pack it in a decent backpack!
Stir Fry on the Fly
One way to steer clear of lunches containing sandwiches every day is to mix it up with a delicious chicken stir-fry. The kids don’t need to know that it only contains around 270 calories! When you add a light soy sauce to healthy brown rice, including sneaking some healthy veggies into the mix, your kids will simply eat it up. This is a great way to introduce some quality fiber into your loved one’s diet. Also, consider making this lunch from leftovers from the previous night’s dinner.
Wait a couple of days though! You improve the chance your little ones will eat their lunch if it isn’t the next day. This will also help your lunch making duties a little easier because you will have already prepared their lunch within the dinner menu. A dessert can consist of a low-fat or fat-free yogurt, containing a fun fruit flavor guaranteed to be a tasty treat for your kids.
Tortilla Pizza Party
Whoever said that pizza wasn’t healthy didn’t know there are alternatives to the traditional greasy style pizza. Instead of opting for the typical pizza dough, consider using whole wheat, high fiber tortillas instead, topped with low-fat mozzarella and tomato sauce that contains all-natural ingredients. This is guaranteed to not only be delicious to the taste buds but is 120 calories less per slice than the more traditional type pizza. Not only that but it has eight more grams of good-for-you fiber. As a side dish, consider some fresh, raw veggies like baby carrots or cucumbers.
Almost without exception, children love Mexican food. This being the case, think about giving them the fixings for a do-it-yourself burrito. You can add all the necessary ingredients to your child’s lunch box for them to then make at school. This includes one high-fiber whole wheat tortilla, some lean ground beef, chicken or turkey, black beans, a slice of tomato, shredded lettuce, low-fat shredded cheese, and their favorite salsa.
This not only ensures they will eat their lunch but they will also have the double pleasure of preparing it themselves. In addition, they will ‘unknowingly’ benefit from the all-natural ingredients found in the tomato and salsa. These both are known to contain the antioxidant lycopene. The whole tortilla is around 260 calories and includes about 12 grams of fiber. To top this lunchtime meal off, include an apple or banana.
Mac & Cheese Please
Who doesn’t enjoy a hot bowl of macaroni and cheese? Even though it is a kid’s favorite food, the pasta often gets a bad rap for lacking in much-needed nutrients. It is also viewed as adding some unwanted calories. However, instead of depriving your child of what is most certainly viewed as a staple by your child but a treat by you, why not mix it up just a bit by substituting whole wheat pasta and low-fat cheese? You can even go one step further by adding some broccoli to provide extra calcium for your little one’s growing bones. Finally, to add a dessert to the lunch box, include some trail mix containing a variety of nuts that is an easy, healthy snack. Remember, change is good, it just sometimes feels bad.
Crazy for Chili
Again, just as it is with mac and cheese, chili is at the top of children’s most favorite things to eat. It is often referred to as comfort food because it is just plain fun to eat. Without letting your kids know, consider giving it a healthy spin by using ground turkey instead of beef and mix in some beans to boot. When preparing this, make a large batch. By so doing, you can freeze some of it for a later meal, either at home or at school.
This can ease your meal preparation as well. Some of the wonderful ingredients of this chili recipe contribute to many important vitamins, including iron in the turkey and fiber and zinc in the beans. These are vital for proper growth and the healing of wounds. You can add a treat of whole wheat pita chips and fruit kebabs for dessert.
A Final Helpful Tip
Whichever type lunchtime meal you prepare, always endeavor to give your child their necessary fiber and protein with every meal. Not only will you be contributing to their health and well-being, but you will also keep them satisfied throughout the school day. In addition to the recommended meals above, keep in mind the many foods that contain bountiful amounts of fiber, such as blueberries and raspberries. Knowing this, don’t hesitate to pack your child’s lunch with as much fiber as you can get away with.
If you want to know how much fiber your child should be getting, a simple way of doing this is to take your child’s age and add five to that number. That is their daily fiber intake need.
When applying all of these helpful hints and ideas to make easy, healthy lunches, there is no doubt your kids will have a fighting chance when going back to school this year to be both healthy and alert and once again, it matters what kind of backpack they use so check out this article!