Enticing and healthy school lunch options are among some of the most often sought parenting tips online and off — and for good reasons. According to an online U.S. News & World Report article on Aug. 30, 2010, 20 percent of kids and teens are overweight and school lunch staples of pizza, chicken nuggets and French fries just add to the problem. Unsurprisingly, kids who bring their lunches from home have been found less likely to be obese and more likely to include veggies and fruits as regular parts of their diets. Healthy school lunches require fresh foods, protein for learning and complex carbohydrates for energy.
Sources for your child’s healthy school lunches can come from last night’s dinner or frozen portions of favorite foods — such as homemade lasagna — made in bulk and frozen in preparation for stocking a child’s lunchbox. In other words, healthy school lunches need not be an endless parade of sandwiches day after day. Open your mind to the possibilities: lunches can be hot, too! Parents.com advises school lunch-packers to even reconsider the container in which the lunch is carried, recommending bright, attractive “Bento-like” boxes to separate the courses and make the meal appear more attractive.
The foods that constitute healthy school lunches need to be considered flexible too. Sandwich contents that would remain uneaten on bread slices can be gobbled up when rolled in wraps or tortillas. If the contents are sticky enough, the wraps can be sliced into attractive finger food circles. Include fresh fruits and vegetables. Almost every child can be tempted into dipping broccoli florets or carrot sticks into a small container of ranch dressing. Even peanut butter no longer has to be “just peanut butter.” Grocers’ shelves are stocked with exotic “almond butter” and even a delicious “cashew butter.”