Get creative with your child's school lunch.
It’s common knowledge that children need a nutritious school lunch to fuel their bodies as well as their minds. A healthy lunch keeps their energy levels up and their stress levels down, so they can focus and learn the rest of the afternoon. However, many parents know all too well how easy it is to get into a lunch-packing rut. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering whether your son will mind eating a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich for the fourth day in a row or whether your daughter actually eats the apple you pack for her every day, you’re sure to enjoy these creative, healthy and easy school lunch ideas:
· Change up the sandwich: Just because a sandwich is normally made with two pieces of bread doesn’t mean it always has to be. Try stuffing a whole wheat pita pocket with tuna, lettuce and slices of tomato or make a fun tortilla by slicing last night’s leftover chicken breast into strips and adding a little salsa. The possibilities are endless—a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made with frozen waffles (heated, of course), low-fat cream cheese and a few pieces of salami on a whole wheat bagel, a whole wheat flatbread with turkey and Swiss.
· Think outside the sandwich: A sandwich is not the only thing you can use as your child’s main dish. When made with fresh ingredients, pasta, soup, and homemade pizza can be great sources of fiber and protein. Hard-boiled eggs and almonds can also add a protein boost to your child’s lunchbox.
· Mix up the dips: Kids love to dip things from French fries to carrot sticks. Getting creative with your dips will not only help your child broaden his food horizons, but it will also help him get different vitamins and nutrients in the process. Some fun dip ideas? Try dipping strawberries and blueberries in a low-fat fruit-flavored yogurt, celery and broccoli trees in hummus, or baked chicken fingers in honey. Low-fat ranch dressing, peanut butter, cottage cheese, pizza sauce and guacamole also make great dips.
· Make your own Lunchable: Instead of buying the pre-packed deal at the grocery store, try making your own Lunchable using a small sewing box from your local dollar store. The different sized compartments allow for different meat slices, cheese cubes, crackers, fresh berries or raisins, and a little treat (marshmallows, trail mix, or chocolate chips work great). Making your own Lunchable not only allows you to customize it for each child, but it will help you save a few bucks in the process.