From Jamie Oliver to Rachel Ray, food celebrities are speaking out about childhood obesity and the school lunches they are served. But why leave it to them when healthy meals can start at home? One of the ways parents can speak out against unhealthy cafeteria lunches is by sending their children to school with pre-packed lunches. And delicious healthy ones at that!
Finding healthy lunch food that your children will actually eat may seem daunting. Fortunately, we have some great ideas for fun and healthy lunches that your child will enjoy eating.
Begin with a grocery trip that includes your school aged children. Write a list together of things they would enjoy eating for lunch. You might even sit together and research healthy school lunches on the internet or flip through family cookbooks for ideas.
While you are in the fruit and vegetable aisle, pick out things and ask your child, “What would be good with this?” Use your imaginations together. Could you wrap something in that lettuce? What would taste great with those cherries? Could the carrots be shaved, diced or sliced in to coins?
You can make your own “Lunchables” by packing whole wheat crackers, homemade pre-cooked chicken breast slices and low-fat cheese squares. Instead of crackers you can also use whole wheat pita chips or whole wheat flour tortillas cut out with cookie cutters.
Look at your dinner leftovers for healthy lunchbox inspiration. Do you have extra whole wheat noodles? Mix in some cut veggies and cheese with the pasta and add a bit of salad dressing for flavor. Are you cooking meatloaf? Make a few meatballs for your child’s lunch, perhaps to place in whole wheat pita with a bit of lettuce. These can be even healthier if made from ground turkey!
After school has been in session for a week or two, ask your child what healthy things he or she has seen others eat. Is there anything your child saw that he or she would like in a lunch box? Oppositely, you can ask what unhealthy things have been seen and what problems this may cause for those who are eating them.
Packing healthy lunches takes a little creativity, collaboration, trial and error. But working together with your child can ensure a positive outcome throughout the school year.