Did you know that only 21% of children ages 6-19 eat the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day? And more than 12 million U.S. children are obese — one out of every six children.
Since most children eat one-third of the calories they need each day at school, their lunches also must provide at least one-third of the “Recommended Dietary Allowances” of protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium and calories. Upgrade your child’s plain old brown sack with these healthier alternatives to the classic lunch options.
Peanut butter and jelly: First exchange white bread for whole-wheat and instead of jelly add fresh cut fruit like bananas, apples or grapes. If your child’s school has a peanut free policy, try almond butter or even tahini (which is made from roasted or raw sesame seeds and a main ingredient in hummus).
Wrap it up: Try a wrap instead of two pieces of bread. You can put nearly anything into a wrap, like sliced turkey and low fat cheese and your child’s favorite veggies. For younger children cut wraps into bite-sized pinwheels.
Deli Meat Roll-Ups: Think outside the bun by rolling deli meats, cheese and even vegetables into roll ups. They’re easy to make and easier to eat.
DIY “Lunchables”: Some of the prepacked lunch kits contain more than a thousand milligrams of sodium, an elementary school child should consume about 1,200 milligrams per day. You can make your own at home with a bento box and let’s your child create their own pizza with flatbread and their favorite toppings.
Snack Time: Cut up raw vegetables, such as carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower and cucumbers. Send them with a small container of healthy dips like hummus or Greek yogurt. Some other healthy snacks include pretzels, popcorn, rice cakes, whole-grain crackers, dry cereal or trail mix.
Dessert: Instead of chocolate chip cookies try an oatmeal cookie, fruit bars or graham crackers. If you have time try Avocado Chocolate mousse, it has no dairy so its fine in the lunch box and it’s a great way to sneak in a vegetable.
With these healthy alternatives, your little ones will be all set to seize the rest of their school day.