School mornings are stressful, but packing a healthy lunch can be simple and quick.
Building a healthy lunch box is an excellent way to ensure your child is getting balanced nutrition throughout the day. Here are some valuable tips from a dietitian to help you create a nutritious and satisfying lunch box in 5 minutes or less.
Forget the entree: Try serving a simple bento-style box instead. You don't need an entree, just a variety of fueling foods for a great lunch. An easy way to make sure your lunch is balanced and filling is include a food from every food group. Build a lunch box that includes a fruit, a vegetable, a protein food, a complex carbohydrate and dairy. This could look like: sliced strawberries, carrot sticks, hummus, whole grain crackers & string cheese.
Think outside the box: If you are struggling for quick lunch ideas, breakfast foods might be the answer. Toss in a muffin, waffle or pancakes. Dinner leftovers make a great lunch as well. Rinse a thermos with boiling water before adding leftover spaghetti or stir-fry for a quick lunch that will stay hot until noon.
Packaged food for the win: There is no need to avoid all processed foods. There are tons of options out there that are health, delicious and time-saving! Some packaged foods our pediatric dietitians pick for lunches include: snack bars (look for ones with >3g fiber & <6g added sugar), dried fruit, individually packaged guacamole, hummus or nut butter, yogurt, jerky & cheese.
Keep it simple: Let go of the pressure to come up with a new lunch menu daily. Even little tweaks like cutting a sandwich different or switching up the vegetable with the same sandwich you sent yesterday is enough variety for most kids. Some of the simplest meals can be the most nourishing and satisfying.
Nutrition at lunch time is critical to help fuel kids through the rest of their day. Strategy when it comes to what goes into the lunchbox can make a difference in how focused and energized a child feels into the afternoon. What's more, knowing they got a balanced meal at lunch can relieve some of the pressure parents feel at dinnertime when kids are often uninterested in eating. For more ideas including a dietitian-approved grocery list and lunchbox combinations we love, our school lunch guide is filled with ideas to help you fuel your kids all day.