Back to School: Healthy School Lunches 101
Back to school season is a celebratory time for parents and kids alike; however, it can also mean added items on the parental “to-do” list. School lunches shouldn’t be an added stressor in your life. Let these tips and ideas help save you time, money, and bring you piece of mind that your kids are getting a balanced, healthy lunch!
When planning school lunches, remember that the key to delicious AND healthy lunches is variety.
Kids are most likely to eat foods that they have a voice in choosing. Providing a few different healthy options kids can choose from supports their independence and also teaches them how to make healthy choices (double bonus!). Using a resource like this handout is a simple way for parents to provide choices while also simplifying the lunch planning process. Meal planning at the beginning of each week and keeping pre-portioned snacks on hand is also extremely helpful for busy parents.
Be sure to keep age groups in mind when planning lunches.
Younger children like lunches that are fun to eat (e.g. colorful finger foods). Whereas older children/teens are more apt to choose items that fit the “cool for school” meter. They want foods they can eat quickly and that fall on trend (e.g. California rolls or lettuce wraps). Because lunch doubles as social hour, time can be limited and simple to eat foods are key for all ages.
Involve kids in the planning, shopping and preparation process to get them excited about eating their lunch.
Throughout the process, encourage kids to think creatively about foods and try new things they might be curious about. Who knows? Maybe the whole family can discover some new foods to add to the lunch mix along the way!
This story is part of a series of "Back-to-School Tips" from the experts at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital & Health Network. Find more back-to-school tips and tricks in our online back-to-school center.
About The Author
Chelsey Lindahl, RD, CSSD, CD, is a wellness dietitian program manager at the MultiCare Center for Healthy Living, which helps educate children and families in Pierce County about healthy lifestyle choices through programs such as “Ready, Set, Go! 5210.” If you have questions, call Chelsey at 253-301-5095 or email ch[email protected].More stories by this author