Going back to school can be stressful (for both kids and parents)! In the rush to get everyone out the door on time each morning, packing a healthy lunch sometimes gets overlooked. But it’s important to remember that nutritious food is fuel for your child’s body and mind, and helps them maintain concentration and focus throughout the day.
Healthy Lunch Options for Kids
- Reconstruct the PB & J. Peanut allergies are on the rise (and peanuts are being banned from an increasing number of schools and classrooms). Hence, the traditional PB & J may not always be an option. However, there are tasty alternatives that pack just as much of a nutritious punch. Try cashew, almond or sunflower butters, but avoid those that contain hydrogenated oils. Switch from high-sugar jams and jellies to natural fruit concentrates, and 100% whole wheat or Ezekiel bread.
- Part ways with pre-packaged, processed lunch boxes. The kids may beg for them when you’re at the grocery store, but those “convenient” lunches are laden with sodium, saturated fats and chemicals. Yuck. Instead, create your own healthier version in a snap! Opt for whole grain crackers, reduced-fat cheese sticks, and organic berries or dried fruit.
- Re-think the ranch dip. Veggies and dip are healthy, right? Unfortunately, most store-bought dips are high in fat and preservatives. Try hummus for celery and carrot sticks, or consider cutting up strips of whole-wheat pita bread for dipping.
- Beware the juice box. While fruit juice can be nutritious, many juice boxes contain added sugars and/or high fructose corn syrup (flavored milks, too!). Look for 100% natural fruit juices, without added colors or sugars.