5 Ideas for Healthy and Fun Lunches

08.29.12 5 Ideas for Healthy and Fun Lunches

We all want our kids to eat a healthy lunch at school.  A nutritious diet is necessary for children because it helps them grow and learn by supporting cognition, energy levels and brain development. Diet not only influences health but also the potential for learning as well. "Inadequate nutrition has an impact on a child's cognition and performance in school", according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A well-balanced diet also ensures that children are getting adequate amounts of essential vitamins and minerals that help them retain information learned at school. We know that healthy food builds strong bones, inquisitive, curious brains, and efficient, good-working bodies. 

Try to make your kids' lunches cool. Make them feel excited to open them up and see what's packed inside. Especially if you have a favorite meal leftover from the night before...surprise them with another round! And if you can't make creative lunches every day, try for once a week to keep the lunchbox mystery alive. Use a wide variety of foods your child likes and try to keep the lunches from turning typical or boring. You could use a different fruit everyday for weeks!

So, in hopes of making lunch-packing slightly easier, a bit more fun and ultimately reaping the rewards of better health, here are a few tips for school lunch ideas:

1. Make the food look appetizing, appealing and fun to eat! Using a melon baller and an alphabet letter cut-out, send your mesage of love with some canteloupe x's and o's. Keep some whole wheat bagels and breads on hand for a variety of sandwich styles, maintaining the element of surprise from the menu. 

Make it easy for the morning routine and assemble the night before; this will store safely in this duo container

 

 

2. Wraps are very easy to make and a terrific way to slip in some vegetables. Try roasted turkey, cheese, shredded carrots and lettuce OR hummus, cucumbers and mixed greens OR fresh mozzerella, tomatoes, spinach and pesto. Combine with a crunchy snack for a thumbs-up report. 

 

3. Rice dishes are always a favorite in our house but the problem is usually keeping rice warm and tasty. Using an insulated container like this thermal serves the trick for rice and beans; an easy, filling and nutritious meal. Or, add some lightly sauteed vegetables and tofu to the rice and you have a full lunch. 

Use this insulated and leakproof container for soup, chili and pasta dishes as well. The wide-mouth opening makes for easy bowl-like eating.

 

4. Pull out your stored cookie cutters and make some fun cut-out sandwiches. Use any kind of flat bread (whole wheat pita works great) and fill with nut butters, preserves, honey, cream cheese, lunch meat, avocado and some fresh greens...in some combination or another.

Or cut pita wedges and fill with healthy ingredients for easy-to- manage mini-bites. 

5. Tortellini or any pasta can be served with just a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan while staying the perfect temperature in this stylish insulated thermos. To round out a satisfying lunch, add a medley of freshly cut fruit in the trio container. Any leftovers can safely make its way home for an after-school snack.

P.S. And for the child who loves to "dip", prepare a container with cut veggies and the dipping of their choice. Many parents swear by the powers of ranch dressing as a route to fulfilling the vegetable quota. Or hummus, cream cheese and almond butter (for celery).The best way to ensure that the dipping sauce stays in the container and not in the rest of the lunchbox, is to use a truly leakproof container.

P.S.S. And for delightful snacking: cheese cubes, fruit and honey grahams will satisfy for the sidecar container. Or spinach pizza bites--mess free!

Please share your ideas for what you plan to pack for school lunches... we have 180 days to be creative!

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