We know that every parent in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex is constantly on the go.
Between work, home, school activities, and your child’s extracurricular activities like sports, dance, gymnastics, karate, etc. there is just not enough time in the day to miss a beat. As a responsible and concerned parent, you know that one thing you can’t mess up is your child’s nutrition throughout the day. In fact, this is an area that demands a lot of attention. According to health experts, when your child eats a healthy meal, he or she is able to maintain the right energy levels for learning. Most importantly, good eating habits reduce the risk of childhood obesity. In this regard, it’s important that you talk to your child about the nutritious food he or she likes.
Let explore 7 tips and tricks for packing more nutrition into your child's school lunch.
Sneak In Fruits and Vegetables
Let’s face it there is nothing that disappoints a parent more than hurriedly preparing some fruits and vegetables in the morning, only for your precious child to bring them back after school untouched. However, you can sneak in that nutrition your child is avoiding in another form. Make things like mini quiches with carrots and zucchini, zucchini parmesan waffles, or even broccoli cheddar muffins. You should cut the vegetables very small, maybe even to the point of pureeing them, and it is a good idea to test these out on the kiddos at home instead of leaving them with things in their lunch they will not eat. Make them small, bite-sized, and give the mini bites cool names like cheddar bombs so that they do not automatically dislike these based on the ingredients. Also try to get your child to eat avocados as a snack, or turn it into guacamole for dipping carrots or cheese sticks.
During the winter it is easy to send soups and stews that are packed with delicious vegetables.
Try To Avoid Processed Foods
We all know that most processed foods contain high sugar and unhealthy fats and overall are simply not good for your health. Although they may seem tempting because of their convenience in preparation, try to avoid them at all costs. Always include proteins, carbohydrates, and vegetables on each lunch you pack. Don’t forget to keep the meal as fresh as possible. Try to include dried fruits and nuts in your child’s lunch as a side item or dessert at the end.
Come Up With Creative Ways Of Presenting The Food
Is your child a picky eater? Try presenting their food to make it look more inviting. Think of ways to bring out the `wow factor’ in your child's lunch. First, try to incorporate natural foods with inviting colors like carrots, strawberries, and cherry tomatoes. Alternatively, you can have fun with shapes. Use cookie cutters to cut the sandwich and then add a little flair. Likewise, cut fruits into triangles, circles or small squares. This makes the foods more appealing and enticing. Come up with creative names for the food too. My daughter was and still is very picky. One day out of desperation for her to eat something, I sliced a banana into tiny slices and put a dollop of peanut butter on each one. I told her they were “banana coins”. She gobbled them up, however, if I would have just given her a banana with a side of peanut butter she would not have eaten either one. Lastly, make sure the lunch box fits your child’s age and personality, so they are excited and ready to see what kind of yummy treats you have packed for their day.
Don’t Forget The Drink
We all know that kid’s love the taste of sweet drinks and carbonated sodas. However, experts recommend that you avoid packing sugar-loaded soda or juice. Such drinks decrease the nutritional value of your child’s meal. Instead, encourage them to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated, or milk. If your child prefers something sweet to drink, look for water-flavored options, or better yet infuse your own water with fruits and mint.
Create Some Unique Combinations
Nobody likes eating the same food every day. It’s important that you think outside the lunchbox. Try a new combination like edamame salad with corn and tomatoes, cheese sticks and popcorn, cheese with baked corn chips among others. With social media and Pinterest, you can find tons of fun creations to keep your child excited about eating and finding new things in their lunch each day.
Make A Different Sandwich
Train your child to get used to whole grain bread, pitas, or wraps. Apart
from lettuce, try avocado slides or shredded carrots with lean roast beef, turkey, or tuna. Also instead of using a spread like unhealthy mayonnaise, try using hummus, guacamole, or pesto. These types of spreads will make your child’s sandwich pop with flavor.
Follow The Lunch Guidelines Set By The School
Most schools recommend nutritious foods for children. They don’t allow chips, cookies or candies. Try packing low-fat yogurt, string cheese, and nuts as alternatives to other unhealthy options.
A healthy lunch gives your kid the nutrition he or she needs every day. It is always a good idea to engage your child in discussions and decisions about healthy food choices, portion sizes and how proper nutrition affects their overall health.