For some of you, part of the school routine includes whipping up healthy school lunches for your children on the fly, which isn’t always easy. We at Butter Beans love making lunch and are here to help! Since lunchtime is a crucial moment in a child’s day, here are our top 5 suggestions to help you pack a healthy school lunch for your children:
- Find a container that works for you. Choose what works best for your children from various options including:
- Builtny neoprene lunch bag: waterproof and insulated, and can be cleaned in the washer or by hand.
- Laptop Lunches: BPA-free, dishwasher safe, and we love their MyPlate version.
- Food jars: perfect for soup lovers, and great for other dishes like rice and beans, pastas, stir fry etc…
2. Create a balanced plate. Take a look at MyPlate for a guide to creating a balanced meal. When shopping, read your labels, and stick to buying foods with ingredients you recognize. Also, remember your child may not obtain all of their nutritional requirements at lunchtime so try to find balance over the full week’s course of meals. Balanced meals are made up of lean proteins, whole grains, fresh vegetables & fruits and good fats such as cheese cubes, olives, toasted seeds and nuts.
3. Get creative and resourceful. It’s easy to pack lunch the night before, just make extra dinner! Leftover pasta dishes, rice, stir-fry, chicken cutlets, or chili dishes, make for fantastic lunches. Soups are also great for lunch! From vegetable purees, to bean and broth based soups. Soups warm the belly and spirit on cold days. Heat them up and store in a thermos to keep warm until lunchtime.
4. Drinks: juice vs. water. When offered juice, most children will go for it first, filling them up quickly and leaving less room for the food you send. The extra sugar content affects their mood and their concentration in school, especially after lunch. Water is the best choice during lunchtime. If you must pack juice, water it down.
5. Include your child when you grocery shop. Let your child pick out something for their lunch, be it fruit, crackers, or their favorite cheese. If you are also packing a lunch for yourself or someone else at home, it is great for your child to see that the whole family is eating the same food while they are apart. Through out the week, check in with your child to see what they are enjoying at lunch.
Lunchtime is an anticipated moment in a child’s day; a time to re-fuel for the afternoon, while having fun and making memories with their friends. Over time, the food you pack for lunch teaches them about your family’s values, and how to balance their own plate.
For more inspiration and ideas on packing healthy school lunches, follow our blog at www.butterbeanskitchen.com/blog.
This post was written by Flora McKay, Director of Community & Nutrition