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Family Times
Wednesday, August 19, 2009 • Posted August 19, 2009

Tips for Nutritious School Lunches

For sandwich variety, try various types of breads, pita, bagels, tortillas, flat bread and crackers. Gradually move toward whole grain foods if they are new to your child. New varieties of whole grain bread are lighter in color and texture and may appeal to children.

To pack a nutritional punch in sandwich spreads (such as tuna fish, egg salad, and even reduced-fat cream cheese), add finely minced (food processor works great) carrots and celery.

When including lettuce leaves (the darker the better!) and/or tomato slices for sandwiches, pack them separate from the sandwich so it does not get soggy by the time lunchtime rolls around.

Peanut butter is a quick, easy, healthful (in moderation), and popular sandwich choice. Use whole grain bread, and add sliced banana, fruit preserves, or honey and a thin slice of Muenster, Monterey Jack, or mozzarella cheese to your child's favorite peanut butter.

At the grocery store, let your children pick out fresh fruits and veggies for their lunch boxes - a great time to teach them about buying "in season" and buying locally (where possible). They will also be ore likely to eat what is in their lunch if they helped pick it out.

Include a small bag or plastic container of one or more cut up fresh vegetables in your child's lunch box. Veggies that travel well include carrots, celery sticks, whole string beans, bell pepper slices (red, yellow and orange varieties are great, but usually expensive), grape or cherry tomatoes (fruits that we eat as vegetables), and pea pods. A separate container of low-fat dressing may be included if your child likes it.

Include low-fat or fat-free milk in your child's lunch box, preferably in a reusable plastic container. You can freeze a half-full container of milk overnight and fill it with cold milk in the morning. The frozen milk will keep the food safe until lunchtime. A frozen water bottle or 100% juice box will also be good.

Buy a few plastic containers to use for fresh veggies, berries, dried fruit, milk, juice, and other take-along foods for lunch boxes. They are reusable and help teach the value of preserving our resources. Be careful about reusing plastic containers that other food came in- some of them can leak harmful chemicals into your food.

Purchase a variety of healthy breakfast bars that contain at least three grams of fiber and that are low in fat. Include one of these bars in your child's lunch box some days. Your child can eat it as an extra treat during lunch, or keep it for a snack later in the day. These are also great to grab and go in the morning for breakfast, along with a piece of fruit.

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