The best lunch needs to be two things: healthy and delicious, so that both the lunch packer and the lunch eater are happy with what goes out, and what comes back home. So how does one ensure a healthful, yummy meal gets both packed and eaten?
Researchers have found that only about one quarter of packed school lunches meet nutrition guidelines for students. How can you help your child get all the good stuff? Focus on ensuring their lunch is packed with a half cup of fruit, ¾ cup of vegetables, a cup of milk, an ounce of grains and an ounce of protein. If you’re like me and need an idea of what that might look like, check out a serving size guide, or focus on making half of each lunch fruit and vegetables, and the rest equal parts protein and whole grains with a side of milk.
Making food easier to consume can also help ensure your child eats it. A 2015 study found that children with shorter lunch breaks were more likely to not eat or, in our opinion worse, toss out their fruit and vegetables. While you may not have say in the length of lunch time, you can cut up fruits and veggies to make them a quick and easy snack to munch on, or buy pre-sliced options, like soon to be available Arctic® apples! Another benefit to cutting up fruit? Researchers have found that kids eat more fruit when it’s sliced!
Keep cold food cold with freezer packs, and hot food hot in a thermos. Not only will this make the food you send to school more palatable, it’s also more food safe and saves kids from having to take time to heat up their lunch.
Get your kid involved with planning, prepping and packing! Not only will they learn kitchen skills, kids take pride in lunches they help with and are more likely to eat food when they get a say in it. A list of options that fit each food group can help kids make healthy lunch choices.
While we’re on the subject of back to school: don’t forget to tell your teachers to apply for their favorite school program to receive funding from Apples4Ed! Get your nominations in by September 19th to be considered.
We hope these tips have helped and highly recommend Arctic® apple wedges with pumpkin almond dip for a healthy, delicious lunch box addition! Check out our Pinterest page for even more ideas. We’re sure you’ll be a lunch box hero in no time!