It’s that time of year again - waking up a few minutes earlier to stand in front of the pantry or refrigerator and stare, mindlessly, waiting for the kid’s lunch to magically make itself. Packing a lunch for another person, especially if your kid(s) tend to me more picky eaters, can be really challenging. The aim of this post is to set you up for a successful school year, offering nutritious, well balanced meals for your family.
Dr. Curtiss and I teamed up (as we love to do!) to detail some key concepts to keep in mind when packing lunches for your littles and to share some of our favorite lunches for our families. When putting together a lunch, keep in mind:
3. Whole grain
If your ingredients include all 3 of the above, you’re setting your little one up for a well-balanced lunch. Here are some examples we love to recommend from each category.
Protein: hard boiled eggs with sea salt, hummus, lunch meat, pulled rotisserie chicken, nut/bean dip
Vegetables: sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, small salad, frozen peas
Fruit: grapes, sliced apples, berries, peeled orange
Whole grains: Whole wheat bread (sandwich), whole wheat noodles, whole wheat tortilla
BONUS superfoods: avocado (as a spread), nut or seed butter
Ensuring there is protein in your kid’s lunch will help maintain a balanced blood sugar throughout the afternoon and help fuel their brain cells for energy and optimal learning. Vegetables and fruits provide an array of nutrients that are essential for maintaining healthy immune function, hormones, neurotransmitters, etc. Whole grains are a great way to add more fiber to your child’s meal to ensure healthy digestion and important vitamins to help with brain function. And the bonus superfoods help provide protein, healthy fat and fiber all in one food.
Putting the above ingredients together can look many ways. Here are a few recipes:
Lunch Roll UP
1 collard green leaf OR whole wheat tortilla
2 slices lunch meat
Pinch sea salt
Lay out collard green leaf or tortilla, spread avocado with sea salt. Add lunch meat. Roll up!
Hummus OR black bean dip in a small mason jar
Baby carrots, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, any other loved vegetable
1 apple sliced into circular rings
1 tbsp nut butter
Spread nut butter on one side of apple ring, make into a sandwich with another ring
Packing whole, fresh food as opposed to packaged food is another important distinction. An example is - choosing fresh peaches to slice over canned or a cup of peaches. Processed food often has additives/preservatives that don’t really benefits our bodies. Fresh food also maintains a much higher amount of nutrients for your growing kids.
And remember - kids eat as healthy as their family and community models. If you’re wanting your little one to explore more vegetables or be more comfortable with a variety of food, try introducing more food into your own meals and trying new recipes!
Cheers! To healthy packing,
Dr. Curtiss & Dr. Stang