Tips For Packing Healthy Lunches Your Kids Will Eat | Families

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Tips For Packing Healthy Lunches Your Kids Will Eat
Families, Health

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- As working parents with no time to spare, many people may just be thankful they remember to send their child to school with a lunch "from home".

However, before grabbing another prepackaged kids' meal at your local grocery story, local registered dietitian Kristen Farnham says it's easy to prepare a well-balanced, nutritious and fun meal for kids to take to school.

She should know. Farnham is constantly finding creative ways to include fruits and vegetables in her elementary school-aged daughter's lunchbox.

The following are 5 of Farnham's suggestions:

  1. Make things attractive. Kids are enticed by how things look. Have your child pick out a lunch box, thermos or water bottle they can bring to school. There are even decorated ice packs to help keep foods cool. Pack stickers or notes for your child. You can also use cookie cutters and make sandwiches into fun shapes. If it looks interesting and fun, they are more likely to eat it. It may take an extra 30 seconds of time, but if your child eats the foods, then it's worth it.
  2. Pack more fruits and veggies. Watch that the side foods you also pack, like potato chips, don't contain more calories, starches and sugars. These ingredients will likely cause children to become hyper in class. If you see a high number of sugar grams and ingredients you can't pronounce, it's most likely not a good food choice for your child.
  3. Think outside the box. Lunches don't have to be the standard sandwich. (You can see examples in the video story on this web page shortly)
  4. Don't overlook the drink. Many chidren's drinks add extra calories and sugar to your kids' diets. Look for low sugar juices or flavored waters. Farnham even tells the FCN Good Morning Jacksonville team how easy it is for parents to make their own flavored water. Also, pack a stainless steel thermos and send your kids to school with milk; by refrigerating the thermos overnight, it will stay cold until lunchtime.
  5. Plan ahead. Have a collection of kid friendly recipes on standby. When shopping for the week, be sure to include the items you intend to pack, and plan to use as leftovers. Prepare lunches the night before as you're cleaning up from dinner, or even preparing that nights' meal. Keep handy, fruit cups in light syrup or their own juice as well as frozen veggies that can be easily thawed (farnham says the steam fresh bags are wonderful and quick). Try to portion foods in containers or baggies; things like crackers, fruits and cheeses.

Finally, Farnham says don't make packing your kids' lunch a chore; have fun! Know that you're packing your child a healthy balanced lunch that teaches them the importance of nutrition and eating right.

Here are some of Farnham's favorite links, she says can help any busy parent prepare healthy kids' meals:

  • Laptop LunchesIf baggies and a brown bag won't cut it, this site sells hip lunchboxes that contain separate compartments, keeping the ketsup from clinging to your kids' carrots. Also- healthy tips from lunch ideas to handling food allergies.
  • Eating Well: Healthy recipes and menus, food news and causes to care about.
  • Healthy Child: Safe, non-toxic, organic products and related advice for your child.
  • Fruits and Veggies More Matters: Getting kids to eat fruits & veggies just got a lot easier! This site's complete with top-10 lists and most popular recipes among the harshest young food critics.
  • Eat Right: The American Dietetic Association is affiliated with this site, describing itself as the "world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.
  • iLunchBox: Cooking, baking; fresh, frozen, canned. This site covers it all, including helpful information on topics like cooking with your kids.
  • Choose My Plate: This is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's website, featuring how to build a healthy plate on a budget. You'll also find dietary guidelines, and information for specific groups like preschoolers or pregnant women.

For more nutritious choices and helpful links, check out the Environmental Working Group's 5 tips for packing a health lunch for your kids.


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