The biggest influence on how our children eat is you, the parent. That influence does not end with a packed lunch. We still need to be vigilant to provide healthy options even when processed, sugary, prepackaged foods are so much easier to pack. The 100 calorie cookie packs look to be a nice idea but they are loaded with sugar. Peanut butter and jelly is always a hit but jelly is packed with high fructose sugar. What kid doesn’t love the crunch of a bag of potato chips? Yet, chips contain high amounts of fat. How about a nice turkey sandwich? Well, if it is deli meat it is likely high in nitrates and salt. So what’s a health conscious mom to do?
Let’s give lunch a makeover while retaining variety, great taste and fun. Here are some ideas to provide your child with a more nutritious lunch.
Try using multi grain or wheat bread instead of white.
Peanut butter is a healthy option as it is a source of protein. Most peanut butters contain partially hydrogenated oils which are a negative so try almond butter or natural peanut butter.
Jelly is high in sugar and high fructose corn syrup so buy 100% natural fruit spread.
Instead of deli meat, use your leftover meat from dinner on a sandwich.
Meat you prepare on your own will contain less sodium; you can control
the quality better, and will not have the nitrates of deli meat.
Top sandwiches with tomatoes, lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, avocado, or other veggies for flavor and additional veggie intake.
Kids love those juice boxes. Juice is high in sugar, so it’s best to cut that out if possible. However, if you insist on keeping the juice be sure it is 100% natural fruit juice with no added sugar. Minute Maid has 100% natural orange juice with added calcium and vitamins in juice box form.
Try packing water instead of juices. I have found that kids will drink water from fun containers more readily than a glass at home. Provide a slice of lemon or lime for them to squeeze in their water for flavor.
Instead of juice boxes try milk boxes in your child’s lunch. Horizons is an organic company that sells white, chocolate and strawberry milk in box form. The box does not need to be kept to temperature to preserve the milk, yet you may want to provide an ice pack since most prefer cold milk. If you look in your organic section or dairy section of your grocery store, you will find plenty of milk and non milk (soy or almond) options to pack.
If its crunch they crave here are low fat and yummy alternatives to chips.
*Carrot and celery with dip
More snack options:
*Packaged cottage cheese (try adding a drizzle of honey and cinnamon or fruit to give it some kick)
*Low fat yogurt
*Sliced mangos or melon