To help power an afternoon of learning and growing, experts say a nutritious lunch should include lots of fiber and whole grains, some protein and healthy fat, a veggie and just a bit of natural sugar, like a piece of fresh fruit. Easier said than done, you may be thinking. How do you get them to eat it? Our best advice is to get kids involved in the lunch-making process. They have a vested interest in what goes in their lunch, so team up with them and put that advantage to good use. Ask them: Would you like grapes or apple slices? Black bean dip or hummus? Sliced turkey or ham? Carrots or celery? Woven wheat crackers or whole wheat tortilla? Providing nutritious choices sets them up for success. They get control over choosing and you get the piece of mind in knowing that they are more likely to eat the good food you’ve packed together. Another favorite lunch tip is to do the lunch selection and prep work on the weekend, or at least the night before. Anything to avoid a chaotic morning rush, right?! It also helps to have your kids choose one main thing that they are going have for lunch every day that week. Variety is great but so is sanity — no need to stress and turn yourself into a short order cook. (After all, some kids like to eat the same exact sandwich every single day of the school year!) You can change up the “sides” every other day to provide some variety. So if your kid likes tuna salad, they can eat it for five days in a row and then have something different the next week. This makes shopping and packing lunches way easier and this way food doesn’t go to waste. Win-win, right? Here are just a handful of lunch ideas:
- Whole wheat tortillas spread with peanut butter and sprinkled with raisins or dried cherries, rolled up and cut in two.
- Hummus and spinach wrap, cherry tomatoes with string cheese, and yogurt.
- Baked corn chips, black beans, cheese wedges and fresh pico de gallo with jicama sticks.
- Whole wheat or buckwheat noodles with peanut sauce, sugar snap peas, a pear, almonds and a fortune cookie.
- Tuna salad with grated carrots, served with crackers or in a pita.
- Cheese triangles served with pepperoni and whole wheat crackers for stacking.
- Vegetarian brown rice sushi rolls with soy or ponzu sauce.
- Smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumbers on mini bagels.
- Shumai dumplings/potstickers packed cold with ponzu sauce or peanut sauce.