Use these simple tips when packing a school lunch or fixing a summer snack.
Make It a Team Effort
From pizza to hotdogs (and even dessert!), we’ve got simple and healthy lunch ideas that kids will love. But before you open the fridge, the first step toward success is allowing your children to make lunch decisions—and then help make the lunch.
Join Forces: Offer two or three healthy options each day. When your child chooses one, team up to make and pack the lunch. Whether it’s spreading on condiments, rolling up tortillas, or filling baggies, the effort will give kids a sense of pride when sitting down for a healthy lunch!
Healthy Pizza Party
Can a healthy lunch include cold pizza? With this version, the answer is “yes.” Plus, it’s a great way to get your kids to willingly eat some veggies.
Simple Recipe: Spread low-sodium tomato or pizza sauce on a large flour tortilla, and sprinkle with reduced-fat shredded cheese. Add chopped turkey pepperoni or ham and then let your kids add their favorite chopped veggies (green peppers work great). Roll the toritilla up like a burrito, cut into equal halves, and you’re ready to go!
Crazy Healthy “Hotdogs”
All kids love hotdogs, but they’re not the healthiest school-lunch option. With a little creativity, a fun and nutritious alternative can be easily packed into any lunch box.
Simple Recipe: Wrap a string-cheese mozzarella stick with 1 or 2 slices of lean ham or turkey before placing in a hotdog bun. Don’t forget to include a few individual ketchup and mustard packets for this fun “hotdog.”
Fresh fruit smoothies are a great way to “hide” the good foods you want your kids to eat.
Simple Recipe: Use fruit-flavored yogurt as a base; puree it in a blender along with fresh or frozen fruit. If you’re using bananas, add a little peanut butter for some extra protein. Pack the smoothie in a thermos, and tell your child to shake it up before drinking. Totally fun!
“Sneak” in Fresh Fruit
We all hope our kids eat the apple or orange that we put in their lunch bags, but more than likely, it’s getting tossed in the trash at the end of lunch period.
Simple Tip: You’ll have a better chance of getting your kids to eat an orange if you peel and segment it and seal in a zip-top bag. Throw in a small cup of flavored yogurt. They’ll have fun dunking the orange slices in the yogurt, and you’ll be glad that they are eating two nutritious foods at the same time!
Don't Forget Hot Food
Face it; at some point, cold sandwiches can get really boring no matter what you do to them. But who said school lunches have to be cold? A hot lunch can be just what your child needs on a chilly winter day.
Keep It Hot: There is a wide variety of insulated food-storage lunch bags and thermos jars in many shapes and sizes that will keep soups, stews, and entrees hot and safe until lunchtime. Large discounts stores, such as Target or Wal-Mart, and online stores, such as Amazon.com, usually have a great selection.
Kids Deserve Dessert!
Remember the good ol’ days? What’s the first thing you looked for in the lunch your mom or dad packed for you? You got it—dessert. Sweet treats that keep fat and sugar to a minimum are great additions to the lunchbox.
Go Get ‘Em: Marketed toward dieters, the 100-calorie snack packs—from companies like Nabisco and Hostess—are a great way to include a little something sweet into a lunch box without adding high amounts of fat or sugar.