The temperature is dropping, the leaves are changing color and you’ve finally hit your stride with the school routine. But what about trying to figure out what to make for the next umpteen weeks of school lunches? Lunches that kids will actually eat. Lunches that won’t make parents feel guilty. It’s a thin line to walk day in and day out for an entire school year!
Healthy Dining’s dietitians are quick to stress balance when it comes to creating lifelong healthy eaters. Mixing and matching healthier foods with less healthful kid favorites gets in the nutrition without increasing the risk that your hard-built lunch will end up being traded away or filling the trash can.
As a Together Counts™ partner, we realize that it’s not always easy putting together a healthier school lunch that your kids will eat. As you’re putting together your child’s lunches, follow these tips from our partner Melissa Halas-Liang MA, RD, CDE, of SuperKids Nutrition to make a healthy school lunch your kids will eat and enjoy:
- Get your kids involved. Ask them about their favorite foods to pack for lunch. Have your children help pack lunch the night before. The more you get them involved, the more likely it is that they will eat the food!
- Eat the rainbow. Aim to include at least two colors of plant-based foods at lunch; for example: orange carrots and frozen pineapple tidbits, red sugar plum tomatoes and green grapes, or black bean dip and frozen mango chunks. Not only does this boost the nutritional quality, but it also makes the meal more colorful and exciting!
- Keep it interesting by diversifying. When offering variety, keep portion sizes small and colorful. For example, a sprig of purple grapes, four sticks of carrots and celery, a small container of low fat ranch dressing. Or you could try five pieces of sliced apples sprinkled with cinnamon, a small turkey and cheese wrap and a small square of black bean brownie with an 8 oz. carton of milk. With lots of small options, you are increasing the chances that your child will get a balanced meal at lunch.
If you’re dining out, don’t forget to treat the entire family to Healthy Dining and Kids LiveWell menu choices at restaurants to save your time and sanity. Dietitian-recommended menu choices like those below can be found at restaurants nationwide for your next family meal.
There are so many lunches to make during the school year! Check out our Food Friendly Family board on Pinterest for even more ideas to get you through the school year.
Healthy Dining’s signature web and mobile site, HealthyDiningFinder.com, is the only search engine of its kind providing personalized dining out recommendations validated by Healthy Dining’s team of registered dietitians. HealthyDiningFinder.com features more than 4,000 menu choices from participating restaurants nationwide enabling diet- and nutrition- conscious consumers to find nutrition information and Healthy Dining options emphasizing lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and unsaturated fats. HealthyDiningFinder.com also features a Kids LiveWell platform, a program developed by the National Restaurant Association, to help parents find restaurants offering healthier meals for children. With 25 years of expertise in the restaurant industry and hundreds of thousands of restaurant recipes analyzed for nutrient content, Healthy Dining is the most experienced restaurant nutrition services provider in the world.
For more quick and easy school lunch ideas, check out these reads from the Together Counts blog!