Lunches Schools are back in session. For some families this means packing lunches, although the cost of school lunches is hard to beat, what is on the menu is not always what a child likes. Eating every day in the lunch room can get old and taking a lunch can also get old. A little of both can be a good thing. Packed lunches are not automatically healthier than a school lunch. The key to getting kids to eat what is in their lunch sack—rather than trading it or throwing it away—is involving them in choosing the food. Each person has their own particular food likes and dislikes! Think about letting your kids choose what they want from a list of healthy alternatives, and even take them shopping with you. Ideally, a lunch would include food from at least 3 food groups. Use My Pyramid as a guide. Here are some ideas to get you started…Low fat dairy: nonfat or 1% milk; low-fat yogurt (even a smoothie or drinkable yogurt); low fat cheese; cottage cheese Fruits: fresh fruit that travels well such as apple, grapes, orange, banana; fruit canned in juice; single-serve applesauce; cut-up fruits served with a fruit-flavored yogurt as a dip Vegetables: baby carrots; colored pepper strips; broccoli or cauliflower; lettuce and tomatoes in a sandwich; V-8 or tomato juice; cherry tomatoes; zucchini slices (don’t forget to include a little ranch dressing as a dip) Protein sources: turkey, lean ham or roast beef; peanut or other butter; nuts; tuna; hard-boiled egg; bean soup or chili; leftovers; mashed beans with salsa rolled in a flour tortilla; peanut butter and banana wedged between slices of cinnamon raisin bread or a pita Grains: pretzels; popcorn; cereal; trail-mix with dried fruit chips Think whole grains! More nutrition and more fiber!—whole wheat pita bread; whole wheat bagel; whole wheat or corn tortilla; whole grain crackers. If a "treat" is a must and fruit just doesn’t cut it, consider something very small like a couple of chocolate kisses or a cookie. It shouldn’t take much to satisfy the sweet tooth! Remember food safety when packing your lunch.
Source: Iowa Extension Service Spend Smart, Eat Smart website