Healthy Recipes for School Lunches

Packing a healthy bagged lunch for your child is one way to ensure your child will have a nutritious mid-day meal.  Studies have shown that if you provide your child with healthy foods to eat at school, they will be better prepared to study and learn throughout the afternoon hours.  There are a lot of convenience foods out there to help parents pack a quick lunch, but those products are often loaded with saturated fats, calories and sodium. 

The key is to give your child something to look forward to at lunch every day, as most kids get tired of eating the same lunch options day after day. Here are some quick lunch box tips for you to consider when packing your child’s lunch:

  • Actual eating time usually lasts about 15-20 minutes and is filled with a ton of distractions. Make sure the foods you pack are easy to eat, easy to open, and don’t require any special tools for peeling or eating.
  • Small children may not eat very much at one sitting. Include more choices by making the quantity of each smaller.
  • Small foods are not only easier for a child to handle, but more fun to eat. Cut sandwiches into smaller pieces, use small sandwich buns, serve baby carrots, and cut fruit into smaller pieces.
  • Use different types of bread for sandwiches and dippers – try crackers, mini waffles, rice cakes, mini croissants, pita bread, mini muffins, small bagels, tortillas, or flavored breads like raisin and cinnamon.
  • If your child wants the same lunch every day, make it for them! As long as the meal is nutritious, let them enjoy their favorite foods.
  • Take time to look at the prepackaged lunches you can find at the grocery store.  This appeal to kids, but aren’t as nutritious.  You can pack the same type of options but in a healthier variety for your child.
  • Make your own snack mixes. Include dried fruits, unsalted nuts, pretzels, and baked crackers.
  • Make sure you think about food safety. Freezing  juice boxes or water bottles the night before and putting them into yoru child’s lunch for the next day is a great way to keep foods cold until lunch time. Use an insulated thermos for soups, stews or things like cold pasta salad.
  • Make sure to include something fun for your child in their lunch – a sticker, sandwiches cut into fun shapes, a special dessert wrapped in a ribbon, or even a special note.

Below are a few links to websites to help you think of healthy lunch, snack and dessert ideas. We hope you enjoy making them as much as your child will love the variety!