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Healthy Lunch Box Ideas for Kids
Preparing a nutritious lunch for your child is as easy as going through your pantry and fridge. Lots of good ideas just waiting to be discovered. From bread to carrot sticks and granola bars to pudding, there’s bound to be some sort of combination to make a great healthy and enjoyable lunch for your child.
All children have different tastes and preferences. Knowing your child’s likes and dislikes regarding each food group is a must. A piece of meat like turkey or chicken breast is fantastic. It doesn’t matter if your child likes it on a sandwich; many children will eat it plain rather than on a sandwich. Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein and folic acid. Add some jelly for a child with a sweet tooth. Sometimes this sweetness will satisfy your child’s need for a rich dessert.
Children generally prefer white bread, and it won’t hurt them to eat it. Toast the bread too. Try replacing it with very soft wheat bread or even wheat crackers. Kids love to make their own little sandwiches using crackers, cheeses and sandwich meats. Peanut butter on wheat crackers is also a great idea.
Most kids prefer cheese on their sandwiches, so add a slice of Real Old American Cheddar or Kraft Deluxe. When introducing new foods to the home, keep in mind different types of cheeses like Monterrey Jack, Colby, Swiss, Mozzarella, and Provolone. Depending on your child’s preferences, pack several slices of cheese for a serving of dairy with a peanut butter sandwich. If your child doesn’t like cheese, try a yogurt of his or her preference.
Know the types of vegetables your child will eat. Carrot and celery sticks are a widely used snack. Also try raisins, apple slices, orange slices, banana halves, and even pickles. Although prepackaged portions of fruit are sold in grocery stores, it is often better and more nutritious to cut the fruits and vegetables yourself. Don’t be afraid to pack non-traditional fruits like watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, fresh pineapple, and kiwi slices. With such delicious things to eat, your child’s lunch may be the subject of a bit of envy from other children and even teachers.
Other ideas include dry cereal like Cheerios or Chex, peanuts, granola bars, or baked chips. These serve as the “chips” part of a packed lunch. Check the nutritional content of packages before deciding what types of “chips” to pack. Make your own Chex mix with pretzels, Cheez-Its, yogurt raisins, Cheerios, peanuts, dried cranberries, banana chips, and more. There are so many possible combinations. Add a few M&Ms to the mix and reduce the need for dessert.
If your child insists on dessert, plan lunch accordingly and leave room for a sweet treat. The pudding can be low fat or fat free. Jello is a great dessert for kids who love fruity tastes. Pack a homemade oatmeal cookie or two or some Hershey kisses. A handful of chocolate chips or M&Ms is the perfect amount for a child who has eaten a healthy breakfast. If your child likes cocoa or very dark chocolate, pack a few squares knowing that the sugar content is significantly lower than milk chocolate. The antioxidants in cocoa are a plus.
Many parents tend not to pack a healthy drink for their child, but it’s something that deserves just as much attention. Anything that has high fructose corn syrup as its main or one of the main ingredients should be thrown out the window. Orange juice and homemade lemonade are good choices if your child doesn’t like milk. Nevertheless, low-fat white milk is probably the best nutritious drink. Chocolate milk contains the same amount of nutrients as white milk and can be used to minimize your child’s desire for desserts. Water is also a wonderful way to replenish your child’s thirst.
Ask your child what he is going to eat. Some parents tend to over-pack a lunch, fearing that their child will be hungry. The child will then go home having eaten only half of what was packaged, which can frustrate the parent. Remember that children do not need as many calories as adults in a day.
There is no right or wrong way to prepare a nutritious lunch for your child,
and there are many ways to incorporate healthy foods into your child’s diet. The keys are to know what your child is going to eat and to make preparing a lunch as easy as possible using common foods you already have at home.
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