A day in the life of an elementary school child is pretty demanding! Hours of learning new information and important life skills, playing sports and running around the school grounds, socializing with friends, etc. In order for these demands to be met, a child, just like a car, needs fuel to run. The best fuel for the human body is healthy food. See below for some techniques to enhance the nutritional value of your child’s lunch box. Elyse and I like to tell kids that a healthy lunch need not be void of treats – treats are healthier if homemade and/or can be balanced if the rest of the foods in the lunch box are healthy. Remember the importance of using re-usable containers too! Cut down on ziplocks, juice boxes, packaged foods and disposable lunch bags to help out our environment!
Elyse and I recently tried out some lunch ideas with the grade one and two classes at Tennyson. They tried celery sticks with cream cheese and dried cranberries and veggie wraps in a whole grain tortilla with guacamole, red pepper strips, diced tomatoes and lettuce. The feedback? Delicious!!
Foods to Increase in the Lunch Box:
- Whole grain breads, wraps and/or pitas
- Low sugar snacks – yogurt, fresh fruit, dried fruit, hummus, veggies sticks, brown rice chips, cheese and crackers, unsweetened apple sauce,
- Vegetables – in sandwiches, wraps, or with dip.
- Healthy drinks – water, watered-down juice, smoothies, homemade lemonade, homemade herbal iced tea.
- Homemade baked goods – muffins, cookies, granola bars.
Foods to Decrease in the Lunch Box:
- Refined breads, wraps and/or pitas (white flour)
- Sugary snacks – store-bought granola bars, candy, cookies, some brands of yogurt, pop-tarts, fruit roll-ups, graham crackers, kid’s cereals.
- Foods made with bad fats and oils – deep-fried chips, cookies, crackers or other products made with hydrogenated fats.
- Sugary drinks – fruit juice, pop, iced tea.
- Luncheon Meats – you can buy organic deli meats, however, most conventional sliced meat is highly processed and full of additives and preservatives.
- Store-bought baked goods – packaged muffins, cookies, granola bars (look for multiple sugars listed in the first few ingredients of a list and high fructose corn syrup).
Examples of a Healthy Lunch:
Hummus with veggies for dipping, an apple or orange slices, a home-made oatmeal chocolate chip cookie and veggie wrap (whole grain flour tortilla, avocado slices, diced tomato, shredded cheese, and red pepper strips).
Brown rice chips, celery sticks with pumpkin seed butter or cream cheese and raisins or dried cranberries, a whole grain pita filled with chicken salad or vegetables and cheese, and vanilla yogurt with sliced bananas.
Homemade raspberry-banana muffin, a fruit smoothie, cheese slices with crackers, whole grain spaghetti with tomato sauce and apple chips.