Simple Tips for Quick and Healthy School Lunches
Preparing nutritious lunches that your kids will love is easier than you may think
For school children across the state of North Carolina and beyond, lunch at school can present itself as a time to eat pizza, cookies, chips, french fries, and other unhealthy options that may not typically be on the menu at home. To help combat the less-than-healthy choices that kids make on their own, many parents choose to pack lunches at home.
This being said—between buying schools supplies, new clothes, and planning for after-school activities, thinking about daily school lunches can add to the stress and hassle of the school year. But packing healthy school lunches for your kids doesn't have to be complicated or expensive!
We've compiled a list of tips that we hope will help you prepare quick and nutritious school lunches that your kids will love!
- Avoid high-sugar foods by checking the ingredient label before you purchase something. If fructose, high fructose corn syrup or sucrose are one of the first ingredients on the list, put it down and move on.
- Check serving sizes so you have an idea as to how many calories your child is actually consuming. One container isn't necessarily one serving.
- When packing lunches, cold items should still be below 40 degrees and hot items should be above 140 degrees. between is considered a danger zone where harmful bacteria could grow.
- Frozen juice boxes or water bottles can also be used as freezer packs to keep food below 40 degrees. Freeze these items overnight and use with at least one other freezer pack.
- Pack your child's lunch the night before to save time in the morning. Leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
- If packing a hot lunch, like soup, chili or stew, use an insulated container. Fill the container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty, and then put in the piping hot food.
- Consider a fun lunchbox that divides your child's lunch into compartments. No need to make fancy artwork with your kid's sandwich, but a little creativity goes a long way.
- Bite-sized finger foods are fun! Shelled edamame, baby carrots, and cubed melon can all be eaten with your hands and children love that.
- Don't completely avoid fats. Healthy fats like those found in avocado, olive oil and nuts will help your child stay fuller longer.
- Let your kids have a say in the process and give them healthy options. Children who are involved in lunchtime decision-making are less likely to try to trade their apple for their friend's cupcake.
- Instead of sugary juice drinks, try adding lemon, lime or other flavors to regular water.