Lunchbox Makeover

Tips for packing healthy and fun school lunches

Pick colorful foods. This is one of the simplest ways to make your child’s lunch more fun and inviting. Not only is a colorful lunch fun, it’s also nutritious when the color is from natural, unprocessed foods like strawberries, carrots, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.

Use whole grain bread instead of white bread. When buying bread, make sure that “whole wheat” is listed as the first ingredient. If the first ingredient is listed as “unbleached wheat flour” or “wheat flour” the bread or product is not whole grain.

Limit potato, corn, tortilla, or other chips. Do your best to limit chips in lunches and at all meals, save chips for the occasional weekend treat. Vegetables and fruits should be the main side dishes in your child’s lunch.

Make lunches fun with shapes. Shapes can make a boring, healthy sandwich fun and less daunting to kids. Use cookie cutters to make different shapes out of sandwiches. Even cutting sandwiches into simple triangles, circles and squares can jazz up a lunch and use holiday cookie cutters for the Halloween and Christmas season. Cookie cutters can be used for fruits and cheeses as well.

Use inexpensive staples. Packing healthy lunches can get expensive. You can cut costs by using whole grain pastas, breads and wraps to create meals and pairing them with fruit spreads, un-processed nut butters and parmesan and pesto for the pasta. Brown rice and beans is another inexpensive kid-friendly staple. Healthy eating doesn’t need to drain your wallet.

Sneak in those vegetables for picky eater. We all know that kids can be picky eaters and can put up a fight over eating their veggies. Our solution is to sneak vegetables onto sandwiches like lettuce, tomato, cucumber, zucchini or roasted peppers.

Make your own Lunchables. Store bought, pre-packaged lunchables are loaded with processed fats and sugars, steer clear of these when you can. Instead, buy whole wheat crackers, organic meats and cheeses and make your own lunchables for the kids.

If your kids like juice, pack only 100% fruit juices. Check the labels of any juice or juice boxes you buy for your children. All fruit drinks are required to list the percent of juice on the label. Make sure its 100% fruit juice, otherwise it is sure to be loaded with sugars and additives.

Make your own baked goods. Sweets and baked goods are fine in moderation and a special treat for little ones. It’s best to make your own baked goods, instead of buying pre-made or boxed baked goods. This allows you to control the amount of sugars and leave the preservatives behind, making sweet treats more wholesome and healthful.

Get your kids to help in the kitchen. Most of us don’t realize how much kids enjoy helping cook, bake and make their own lunches. This gets them excited about eating their lunches when they help prepare them. The kitchen is a great place to start having discussion about healthy eating and cooking. You may be surprised by how your kids react positively to helping out in the kitchen.