Wednesday, August 5, 2015

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Healthy Lunch Box Ideas

"Feeding kids healthy foods is not debatable."  --Chef Ann Cooper, the Renegade Lunch Lady

Mixed Nuts Fruits Veg
Last weekend I had fun watching kids pick out their new school backpacks and lunchboxes.  There is so much excitement around the first day of school and the new school year.  Kids need brain foods to help them power through the day and long-lasting energy and good mood foods.  I hear from parents all the time that they don’t know what to put into their kids’ lunchboxes. 

Here are some practical AND economical ideas for making healthy lunch boxes for your kids (and for you, too): 
  1. Shop for a couple of cool reusable BPA-free containers.  Let your kids choose them!   Look for great containers at places like TJMaxx and Home Goods for under $3.00 each.  
  2. Buy several reusable ice packs to keep foods safe and fresh. 
  3. Make a chart with 4 columns for lunch choices:  protein, fruit/veggies, healthy carb snack or dessert, and a drink.  Ask your kids to help you make the chart.  Let them decorate it and name it:  “My Healthy Lunch Chart”.
  4. Buy a supply of paper napkins and reusable utensils (let the kids pick them out).  
  5. Set aside a shelf in your food pantry or a cabinet that is accessible to the children for storing their lunch boxes and supplies.
  6. Shop for whole grain bread that meets “The Nancy Rule”:  Buy breads with 4 or more grams of dietary fiber per slice AND the first ingredient includes the word “whole”.   Once you find a bread that meets “The Nancy Rule”, write down the name and brand of the bread on your child’s chart.  Fiber is what fills us up and helps regulate the blood sugar.
  7. Keep almond or peanut butter in the pantry, along with your child’s favorite flavor of jam. Choose nut butters without added fats, salts, and sugar.  Nothing beats a PB and jam sandwich on whole grain bread!
Here are two of MY favorite lunch box ideas:
  1.  a small container of homemade hummus with cucumber slices, sliced red peppers and baby carrots.  This colorful lunch will have other kids asking your kids to trade! 
  2. Fresh seasonal fruit in one container and a small serving of nuts in another.     
To learn more about making healthy lunches for your kids this school year, click here to read the latest from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

Eat real food.  Buy from your local farmers.  Give lots of hugs.  Be kind. 

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.