Parent challenge: Can you make a daily meal as healthy as school lunches?
With the many after-school activities and athletic team practices, parents are busier than ever, so they might be tempted to forego making their kids’ lunches. Lisa Money, RDN, said not to worry! According to a Tufts University 2018 study, school lunches are the single healthiest source of food consumed by American children and adults.
Whether you choose to make your own or let your child choose the school lunch, you can feel good about your child’s nutrition with these easy tips:
- Always pack fruits and veggies to provide vitamins and fiber. A serving is ½ cup or about six baby carrots or one medium orange. Don’t forget cut watermelon, pineapple or cherry tomatoes.
- Some facts about fat. Kids need some fat in their diets to stay healthy and help keep them full. Include nuts or nut butters or low-fat milk as healthy choices. Potato chips and cured meats should be eaten less often. PB&J sandwich fingers go great with apple slices and low-fat chocolate milk.
- Whenever possible, choose whole grains. Sandwiches, wraps, pasta and crackers that are made from whole grains or brown rice are more filling and contain more B vitamins than regular white options. A whole wheat wrap stuffed with ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato and hummus looks great as a pinwheel finger food.
- Drinks count. Milk has been a favorite option, but if your child would rather have cheese or yogurt, include these instead, and add water to drink instead of juice drinks and soda.
- Mix it up. Variety improves interest, so if you find that your child gets bored of your lunches, let them pick from the school lunch or try adding other options such as:
- Guacamole or hummus as a dip for veggies
- Soup with sandwich sticks
- Pasta salads that contain cheese and pepperoni
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