Cool School Lunches
By Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers
you know by
now, all parents have a different idea of what is healthy food and what
For years, you have had the opportunity to hand select and monitor what
child eats for school lunch. Now it is time to test their ability. It is only
for your child's eyes to wander and notice, and be envious of, what the
kids are eating. Here are a few tips that may help your child's school lunch
healthy, fun and get noticed by the other kids.
important to have the right gear and the lunchbox is an important
letting your child pick out his own school lunchbox or purchase one and let
decorate it with paint or markers. Make sure your child's name is on it
permanent marker or paint. Most schools will not provide a refrigerator
store lunchboxes, so you should select an insulated one with a
pack to keep the lunch fresh. Or, instead of using a freezer pack, you
freeze a bottle of water, and add it to the lunch box. It will keep the lunch cold and fresh during
morning classes and by lunch time it will have thawed and be ready to
Those gimmicky, salt, fat and sugar-filled, "Lunchables" trays are
very popular with kids. Not because they taste so good, but because
cool. There is no reason a healthy homemade school lunch needs to look dull and
Buy colorful containers in different shapes to pack your
child’s lunch. They
are better than plastic bags and less wasteful too. If your child is
characters, buy some stickers and decorate the containers. Put your
name on the containers, but it is inevitable that some containers may
their way home. Another option is to purchase inexpensive or "semi"
disposable containers that will not disappoint you if they accidentally
in the trash.
Provide small servings and many choices -- variety is a key to healthy
Providing your child with plenty of variety is not hard or time
lunch foods can be prepared, in advance, in large quantities. Each
simply fill up small containers with different foods. Quick lunchbox
fruit pieces or a piece of whole fruit
(no sugar added)
sticks filled with cream cheese and raisins, or white bean dip
snap peas with Ranch dressing for dipping
or a smoothie
meat roll-ups with cream cheese and an asparagus in the middle
cubes or string cheese logs
butter (or sunflower butter) and apple slices or crackers
bean dip or hummus with carrots and mini pita breads
grain crackers or pretzels
mix made from cereal, nuts and dried fruit
child about lunchtime:
Don't assume that your child's uneaten healthy school lunch is sign that
he did not like the food. If you ask a few questions, you may find that
child does not have enough time to eat lunch at school or that he is spending
socializing with his friends than actually chewing. Asking questions
you the opportunity to help him learn other important skills such as
his time and selecting times to socialize.
Simple school lunch box recipes:
chunks (1/2-inch pieces)
cheese cubes (½ inch pieces)
of nitrate-free ham cut into 1-inch squares
Assemble the mini-kabobs on a toothpick in the following manner: Ham
pineapple chunk, ham square and a cheese cube.
Substitute teriyaki-flavored baked tofu for the ham/cheese. Healthy baked tofu
easily be sliced into small cubes and is very tasty with the pineapple.
Combine any or all of these ingredients in an airtight container and
toss gently to mix. Store airtight. Lasts for weeks of school lunches.
Dry snacks: cereal (low in sugar – under
5g per serving), small
pretzels, graham cracker or rice cake pieces, or animal crackers.
Dried fruits: Cherries, apricots, raisins, mangoes
or coconut flakes
(Tip: big pieces of dried fruit can be cut up easily using kitchen
Nuts and seeds: sliced almonds, pecan pieces, cashew
seeds, sunflower seeds or peanut pieces.
Wraps or rolls
be served as a traditional wrap sandwich or slice it into pieces (like
roll) for bite sized treats.
1 tablespoon peanut butter or sunflower butter
1 tablespoon cream cheese
Tortilla -- whole wheat or plain (squared)
Remove the skin from the kiwi and slice it into thin rounds. Spread
peanut butter over half the wrap and cream cheese on the other half of the
wrap. Arrange the kiwi slices evenly over the cream cheese. Beginning on the
cream cheese end, gently roll up the tortilla forming a log shape. The peanut
butter will act as the glue to keep it together. Yummy and healthy! Serve.
About the authors: Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children, and founders of FreshBaby.com, creators or products such as homemade baby food kits, baby food cookbooks, baby food and breast milk storage trays, breastfeeding reminders, and child development diaries (www.FreshBaby.com). Visit them online at www.FreshBaby.com and subscribe to their Fresh Ideas newsletter to get monthly ideas, tips and activities for developing your family's healthy eating habits!
More Articles by Tallman and Ahlers
Child Won't Eat-- Ask the Experts
Teach Your Kids to Cook
Healthy Brown Rice for the Family
Foods For Your Baby
Healthy White Beans- Family Meals
Fun Food Activities
Healthy Habits: Cookin' Couscous