Can you believe it’s already week three of the new school year? If your kids are already complaining about eating the same old peanut butter and jelly sandwich day after day — or, if you’re simply looking for some healthy alternatives to school lunches — look no further. Here’s some healthy (and tasty!) ideas for your child’s mid-day meal, courtesy of Gillette dieticians Karri Larson and Stephanie Campbell.
“A healthy, nutritious lunch helps kids stay focused in school, gives them energy for physical activity, and can lead to a lifetime of smart food choices,” adds Campbell. Who knows? These ideas may become your lunch favorites, too!
Home-made Lunchable: Slice desired cheese, along with your child’s choice of meat and whole grain crackers. Add fresh fruit or raw carrots to have a balanced lunch.
Pita Sandwich: Stuff with hummus, meat or cheese and vegetables for an alternative to a sandwich.
Trail Mix: Include various nuts and fortified cereal, raisins, dried cranberries, and granola for a balance of protein, fiber, and antioxidants.
Sandwiches: Tuna, turkey, chicken, and egg salad are healthy alternatives to your run-of-the-mill sandwich. Add lettuce, tomato or other veggies your child likes.
Pasta Salad: Use whole grain pasta, and remember to add low fat cheese and vegetables such as celery, peppers, chickpeas, and cucumbers.
Hard Boiled Eggs: A great way to get in protein without the nitrates that are often found in lunch meats.
Fruit and Yogurt: Add fruit, fortified cereals or granola to increase your child’s fiber intake.
Veggie Wraps: Spread low fat dressing on the inside of a wheat tortilla and cut carrots sticks, peppers, and cucumbers into spears for the filling. Add a slice of cheese into the wrap as a source of protein.
While candies and chips are a fun treat, our dieticians encourage you to teach your kids about moderation and “sometimes” foods. And, of course, avoiding sugary beverages in favor of milk or water is not only healthier, but will promote concentration in afternoon lessons.
Do you have a question for our dieticians? Leave a comment here, and we’ll address it in our monthly “ask the dietician” post.