What to Pack for School Lunches
When school starts, so does packing lunches again-if your child was home during summer with you. School lunches are usually dreadful and the majority of children should not eat what is being served. It is heartbreaking to see, but “Child Nutrition” is not what I would call that department. So few schools have healthy, balanced meals. So many schools offer fried, fake, over-sugared, over-salted, chemical filled, and tasteless lunches and breakfasts!
There are many ideas, choices and ways to prepare an enjoyable lunch for your child to bring to school. This list of tips and suggestions might be something you wish to print out and put on your refrigerator to help you pack great lunches for any child. These ideas will assist you with those on special diets or even those with no dietary restrictions.
Many children enjoy a hot lunch, especially if they have been home all summer enjoying such meals in their homes.
Purchase a small metal-lined thermos. Name brands seem to allow the foods to remain hot by the time lunch rolls around. Some of these come in cute, fun designs that will make your child more interested in the food inside. They are not too expensive. Check your local Target, Walmart or Costco.
In preparing the thermos you will need to fill a microwavable glass container with water. Heat the glass for about two minutes in the microwave, or you can boil water on your stove. Pour the hot water into the thermos and seal it closed tightly. While the water is in your thermos warming up the metal components, heat the food that you plan to put into the thermos. When the food is a good temperature, remove the water from the thermos and pour in the heated food. Close the thermos tightly, but not so tightly that your child will not be able to open it up at lunchtime. Do not forget to provide a spoon or fork.
What follows are some ideas for you to pack in the thermos:
Leftovers from the night before: meatloaf, chicken and rice, chicken nuggets, cut- up taquitos, casseroles, cut-up hot dogs with BBQ sauce or ketchup or meat sauce, pasta and sauce, turkey with gravy, chicken pieces, stir fry, macaroni and cheese, beans, lentils, soup, chili, or any other ideas along these lines.
If you include a warm or hot sauce, it will help maintain the foods temperature as it surrounds the main course in the thermos.
Often, if you think of ethnic foods, you will find more choices for lunches such as; taco meat, rice bowls, macaroni, sweet and sour chicken, soups, etc.
If your child prefers cooler foods try sandwiches. Sandwiches do not have to be made using bread. There are many other ideas to try. Try waffles, pancakes, rice cakes, crackers, chips or a tortilla to wrap the protein inside or to use as a dip. This can also be used with the hot foods in the thermos.
Try making sandwiches out of nut butters for a healthy option to the typical meat, fish or poultry sandwich. Other choices can be yogurt, cereal and milk or a milk alternative. The thermos can be used for yogurt or milk. When you prepare the thermos you can put ice-cold water (or crushed ice) into your thermos for about 5 minutes, tossing out the water or ice and then adding the cold beverage or food afterwards. A thermos can also be used for cold fruits or cold soups.
There are alternatives to sandwiches and hot or cold foods for sources of proteins your child’s lunch. These include nuts, seeds, and trail mix.
Now that you have many ideas for the entrée, let us think about side dishes.
Some side dishes that are healthy are fruits and veggies. You can pour some healthy dressing or nut butter in a small container so that your child can dip his or her veggies or fruit into it. Add some healthy snack bars, healthy chips, crackers, and pretzels for other options.
Ideas in the sweets category that you can offer as a special treat (ones that you bake from scratch, for optimal health) could be: cookies, brownies, or muffins. Add some flaxseed in the batter for heart and brain healthy omega’s. Health food stores also offer ready-made sweets without chemicals, dyes or other unhealthy ingredients.
Hopefully, your child’s lunch will be the envy of the other children sitting around them.
There is nothing better than putting a smile on your child’s face and having them know how much you love them and are thinking about them, while you are apart
Barrie Silberberg is the author of The Autism & ADHD Diet: A Step-by-Step Guide To Hope and Healing by Living Gluten Free and Casein Free (GFCF) And Others Interventions. Her web site is: www.puttingyourkidsfirst.com
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This post originally appeared on our September/October 2013 Magazine