Schools Back in Session

Here in Iowa, schools are back in session. For some families this means packing lunches, although the cost of school lunches is hard to beat, and packed lunches are not automatically healthier than school lunch.

I think the key to getting kids to eat what is in their lunchbag—rather than trading it or throwing it away—is involving them in choosing the food. I take my lunch to work almost every day and I’m sure that no one else could guess what I would like!

Consider letting your kids choose what they want from a list of healthy alternatives, and even take them with you to shop for it. Ideally, a lunch would include food from at least 3 food groups. Use MyPlate as a guide.

Here are some ideas to get you started…

  • Low fat dairy: nonfat or 1% milk; low-fat yogurt (even a smoothie or drinkable yogurt);
    low fat cheese; cottage cheese
  • Fruits: fresh fruit that travels well such as apple, grapes, orange, banana; fruit canned in juice; single-serve applesauce; cut-up fruits served with a fruit-flavored yogurt as a dip
  • Vegetables: baby carrots; colored pepper strips; broccoli or cauliflower; lettuce and tomatoes in a sandwich; V-8 or tomato juice; cherry tomatoes; zucchini slices (don’t forget to include a little ranch dressing as a dip)
  • Protein sources: turkey, lean ham or roast beef; peanut or other butter; nuts; tuna; hard-boiled egg;  bean soup or chili;  leftovers; mashed beans with salsa rolled in a flour tortilla; peanut butter and banana wedged between slices of cinnamon raisin bread or a pita
  • Grains: pretzels; popcorn; cereal; trail-mix with dried fruit chips
    Think whole grains! More nutrition and more fiber!—whole wheat pita bread; whole wheat bagel; whole wheat or corn tortilla; whole grain crackers

If a “treat” is a must and fruit just doesn’t cut it, consider something very small like a couple of
chocolate kisses or a cookie. It shouldn’t take much to satisfy the sweet tooth!

A few recipes from Spend Smart.Eat Smart. that are ideal for packed lunches are:
Wraps “Your Way”
Make-ahead Mexican Rollups
Popcorn Trail Mix
Fruit Kabobs with Yogurt Dip
Crispy Granola

Finally, don’t forget food safety when packing your lunch.

-pointers from Peggy

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