It’s that time of year again. Summer is winding down, and everywhere you turn, you are bombarded with back-to-school ad campaigns. You start to wonder what you need to do to prepare for the upcoming school year. You ask yourself “what stores have the best deals on school supplies?”, “how much is this going to run me?” and, perhaps most importantly, “how do I make sure my child is getting adequate nutrition at school?”
If the hot lunch menu at your child’s school is less than ideal, then packing a lunch for your kids may be the best option. Here are some ideas to make bringing lunch to school fun and healthy:
- Start by going to myplate.gov. Although MyPlate has not yet been adapted for children, the guidelines are the same, and focus on portion sizes for each of the food groups. Sit down with your child and look at the layout, explaining to them that their lunches will incorporate each of the food groups shown.
- Give your child options. When deciding on a menu for the week, let them pick between a few options for fruits, vegetables, and sandwiches. Although you can never be sure that your child eats everything that you pack for them, letting them chose which foods they would prefer will increase the chances that those foods will be eaten and not thrown away or traded for other not-so-great ones.
- Make foods fun! Cut sandwiches into shapes with cookie cutters, or add fresh fruit to brightly colored jello snacks.
- Don’t throw in any surprises. Make sure your child is familiar with the foods you are serving them. Although hummus and sliced peppers is a delicious snack, your kids probably won’t touch it if they have never seen it before.
- Have your child help pack their lunchbox the night before. This way, they can be excited about making their own food, and look forward to eating it the next day.
Although thinking about what your child is going to eat once fall arrives can be nerve-racking, you can go into the upcoming school year with confidence knowing that you have prepared both yourself and your child for a healthy, happy year. Thanks to Kathryn Anne Kuhatschek for this blog entry. Kathryn is a senior in the dietetics program at Western Michigan University and will be applying for internships this winter. She will be a great asset to the nutrition and wellness field.
Categories: Nutrition & Wellness