School lunch is an excellent time to refuel your child’s energy as well as help boost concentration and memory for the afternoon. The trick is providing a lunch that packs a nutritional punch and appeals to your child. Live Light Live Right nutritionist Judy Marshel shared her tips with us.
The ideal lunch contains 1/4 lean protein, 1/4 whole grain, 1/4 vegetable, 1/4 fruit and a serving of low-fat dairy.
Try these quick, easy and healthy lunch ideas
- One whole-wheat pita with mixed greens, grilled chicken and light Caesar dressing, baby carrots and a piece of fruit.
- Tomato and cucumber salad with feta cheese, olive oil and vinegar; tuna salad on whole-wheat bread and an apple.
- Grilled chicken on a bed of romaine with shredded carrots, reduced-fat cheese and light vinaigrette dressing along with whole wheat crackers and a pear.
- Whole-wheat tortilla roll with sliced turkey, sliced low-fat mozzarella cheese, red pepper strips and shredded lettuce; with fruit salad and a glass of low-fat milk.
- Salmon or tuna lettuce wrap (salmon or tuna mixed with light sesame Asian dressing wrapped in a lettuce leaf), whole grain crackers, low-fat plain yogurt mixed with an orange.
- Garden salad with canned salmon or left-over chicken, tomato, cucumber and light vinaigrette, a whole grain roll, a bunch of grapes and a glass of low-fat milk.
- Whole-wheat pita stuffed with vegetarian refried fat-free beans, salsa, chopped lettuce and shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese; and apple slices.
- A green salad loaded with canned chunk light tuna, carrot strips, pepper slices, tomato wedges, red beans and dried cranberries or raisins topped with light balsamic vinaigrette; with a cup of low-fat milk.
- A peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole-wheat bread; a piece of fresh fruit; and low-fat yogurt.
- Whole-wheat tortilla wrap of hummus, lettuce, sliced tomatoes, feta cheese and black olives; plus a carton of fat-free or low-fat vanilla yogurt and berries.
- Pasta salad, made with whole wheat pasta, diced tomatoes, cucumber, reduced-fat cheese and carrots, with light Italian dressing; and a piece of fresh fruit.
Finish the meal with a bottle or water of seltzer!
Foods To Have On Hand
Keep the following foods within reach to make packing lunch fast and easy!
- Fresh fruit… apples, pears, bananas, grapes, berries, dried cranberries or raisins
- Vegetables….lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, green pepper
- Protein: canned tuna or salmon, turkey, chicken, peanut butter, red beans, fat-free refried beans
- Fat: light mayonnaise, light salad dressing, hummus
- Carbs: whole grain tortillas, bread, pita, crackers, pasta
- Dairy: low-fat yogurt, low-fat milk, reduced fat mozzarella cheese or cheddar cheese, feta cheese
- Staples: salsa, olive oil, vinegar, black olives, bottled water
Put Your Kids in the Chef’s Seat
It’s always a good idea to get your child to help plan their lunches, as they are much more likely to eat them. Agree on what goes into every lunch: some protein, a grain, at least one fruit and veggie, a dairy product (if not buying milk at school) and a bottle or water or seltzer.
Remember that it’s not your lunch. If you pack broccoli and your child hates it, he/she won’t eat it. Let your kid weigh in on what they want to pack in their lunches, and offer them a few healthy choices so they feel like they’re in control.