Time to get up early – and make lunch! I know this isn’t the most fun task at hand, and it can be challenging to satisfy everyone – kids want something yummy and parents want something quick and easy to make that won’t break the bank.
Lunch is more than just a break in the day; it’s truly a refueling opportunity for your kids. This is why it’s important that they have a balanced meal with foods that are designed to keep them feeling full for the longest amount of time. A power lunch should include a protein and carbohydrates. Note: Protein (ex: lean meats, cheese, hummus, etc.) takes twice as long to digest, which means kids stay fuller longer. Kids who don’t eat a protein at lunch are the ones who are typically hungry and dissatisfied before the end of the day. Carbohydrates (ex: 100% whole grain bread, wraps, crackers, pasta, fruit) fuel your kid’s brains and give them energy.
Lisa Giles, a Registered Dietitian with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Strong4Life, provided the following sample meals (that are fulfilling, easy to make and inexpensive and easy to make)
Gobble Me Up: A turkey sandwich on 100% whole wheat bread, paired with fruit and veggies will keep them going strong through the afternoon. (100% whole grain is high in fiber; this will also help to keep hunger at bay.)
Sample Lunch: Turkey sandwich on 100% whole wheat bread, fresh apple, baby carrots and 1% plain low-fat milk or water
Pasta Perfecto: Who says lunch has to be a sandwich? Whole-wheat pasta is a fun, good-for-you change from the ordinary.
Sample Lunch: Pasta salad made with 100% whole wheat pasta and fresh veggies (like bell peppers, tomatoes or broccoli), hard-boiled egg, fruit cup packed in 100% juice and 1% plain low-fat milk or water
Veg Out: Kids love to dip their food, so why not pack some veggies and humus for lunch? Add our healthy sides and they’re good to go!
Sample Lunch: Fresh veggies (like cucumber, carrots or bell peppers) with hummus, whole grain crackers or rice cakes, grapes and low-fat milk or water
That’s a Wrap: Switch up your sandwich by using a 100% whole-wheat wrap, rolled around the wholesome foods they love.
Sample Lunch: Leftover baked chicken and veggies (like lettuce and tomato) wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla, banana, low-fat yogurt and water
Sandwich Switcheroo: Instead of a turkey or chicken sandwich, surprise your kiddo with a whole-wheat nutter butter or tuna salad sandwich (just go easy on the mayo).
Sample Lunch: Nut butter (peanut, almond, sunflower) or tuna salad sandwich on 100% whole wheat bread, dressing, unsweetened applesauce, low fat string cheese and water *Check with your school about their nut allergy policy
Some of my favorite lunch options for the kiddos include Greek yogurt with mix-ins such as nuts and fruit. And what about left overs? Some parents say their kids happily eat left over spaghetti and sauce. Add some sliced fruit and vegetables and you’ve got a hearty, healthy meal. What are some of your favorite go-to lunch ideas?