What’s for Lunch? School-Time Lunches Made Simpler.
There are lots of simple ways to succeed with school lunches, but sometimes it feels like the brain freezes right when you need it most.
Make a menu starting by choosing a lunch-style such as a sandwich, pasta, salads, or dipping-fun, and use this acronym: VFGP.
Very Funny Goofy People = veggie, fruit, grain, protein and add a low-fat milk or yogurt for calcium. These are the components of a complete lunch.
Here are a few nutritious and complete options—feel free to add to the list and swap out those fruits and veggies for other faves!
1. Sandwich-style – jazz up (and simplify) the ultimate lunchtime favorite.
- Whole wheat tortillas: have them on hand for lots of easy lunches and also afterschool snacks.
- Peanut butter and Banana Roll-up (pack some baby carrots and a LF milk)
- Low fat cream cheese and turkey pinwheels, rolled and sliced like sushi (add some carrots and celery sticks, a box of raisins and a LF milk)
- Avocado and veggie wrap (send along some grapes, walnuts and a LF milk)
- Afterschool: whole wheat tortillas make an easy quesadilla with salsa and guacamole.
Stuff a pita with:
- Hummus and veggies (add a fruit and yogurt).
- Turkey, lettuce and grated carrots (add a fruit and LF milk).
- Cheese and sliced apple (add some veggies and LF milk or yogurt).
- Beans and cheese, and a little salsa packed separately (add carrot and celery sticks, grapes and LF milk).
2. Dippity-do-dah - style.
Research has shown that kids will eat more vegetables and fruits if they can dip them into something. And kids love to eat with their hands. Pack an assortment of healthy, balanced items that the kids can dip and munch with their fingers. Just remember Veggie, Fruit, Grain, Protein and a source of calcium into their lunch sack and they’re set.
- Apples slices and grape packs with mini peanut butter packets
- Baby Carrots and ranch dip
- Mini box of raisins
- Individual apple sauces
- Organic string cheese or other snack-size cheeses like Cabot 3/4 ounce Minis or other natural options Homemade trail mix with nuts like walnuts and almonds and dried fruit such as raisins and dried cherries (okay, and maybe a few chocolate chips)
- Grapes and blueberries on mini-skewers (cut the tip with kitchen scissors after making the kabobs) with a small plain or vanilla yogurt for dipping
- Whole grain, all natural baked ‘chips’, pita crisps or brown rice crackers and bean dip like hummus or black bean dip
It’s like a little lunchtime party!
3. Pasta Time.
Pasta may not seem a likely lunchbox choice, but there are lots of cool, wide-mouth thermoses that make this a great option.
- Creamy-cheesy Pasta. Mix cooked whole grain bow tie or curly pasta with a combination of Greek yogurt and parmesan to create a ‘creamy’ sauce.
- Red sauce or Primavera Pasta. If they’re adventurous, send them with pasta mixed with lycopene-rich tomato sauce and maybe a favorite veggie (or two or three!)
- Add a fruit and a small treat and you’re complete.
...and while you’re packing lunch for the kids, don’t forget the person who’s doing the packing, too! The great health you want for your kids can be yours and you’ll have easy, portable-n-affordable food that’s sure to please the palate. After all, research suggests that moms who eat healthy have kids who eat healthier, too.
Wendy Bazilian (www.wendybazilian.com) is a doctor of public health, registered dietitian and freelance writer in San Diego. She is also the Nutrition Advisor at the renowned Golden Door and Co-owner of Bazilian’s Health Clinic with her husband and business partner, Dr. Jason Bazilian. Dr. Wendy is author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet (Rodale).
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