As the new school year approaches, explore new and different lunch ideas for your growing kids

By Dominee Apple and Tonya Anthony
Photography by Brian Brown Photography

Most people feel that packing a homemade sack lunch for school is a healthier alternative for their children. This theory has many pitfalls that can turn a healthy plan into a processed-food nightmare. In reality, many sack lunches can be loaded with pre-packaged foods that contain large quantities of saturated fat, salt or sugar, such as potato chips, cookies, candy and sugary drinks. Not that these items should be completely eliminated, but definitely consumed in moderation. This is where reading the label on a lot of the commonly packed foods for lunch can greatly assist in making better choices for your child.

With today’s busy lifestyles, it is difficult to avoid some of the quick and easy options that seem to always be right at your fingertips. Making a healthy sack lunch can sometimes feel like a chore, especially when it’s easier to hand over some cash for a school lunch you don’t have to prepare (as mothers ourselves, we don’t judge!).

In an effort to meet budget constraints, schools can sometimes offer lunch menus that adhere to very minimal nutritional standards. If a school lunch is your preference, consider subsidizing by packing a healthy snack to ensure your child’s proper nutritional intake.

Choices are key for your kids. Letting your child make a list of the foods they would like to have for their lunch helps to develop great meal-planning skills. This goes a long way in empowering them to take a more active role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Encourage them to balance flavors such as sweet and savory, as well different textures like soft, crunchy or chewy. Kids like things they can eat with their fingers and they can recognize. Regardless, the final decision of what will constitute a healthy and well-balanced lunch will ultimately be the responsibility of the adult.

A healthy lunch should provide one-third of your child’s daily nutrition requirements. The following requirements will ensure that your portions stay small and on target:

• One serving of protein-rich food (meats, fish, eggs)
• One serving of carbohydrate or starchy food (breads, pasta, rice)
• One serving of calcium-rich food (yogurt, milk, cheese)
• One serving of fruit or unsweetened dried fruit
• One serving of vegetables (salad, carrots, celery)
• One drink (beverages should be calorie free or low in sugar)
• One serving of water

CrumbSnatchers Lunchbox eBooks offers great new lunch ideas for tots, teens and everyone in between. Order yours online today at Like CrumbSnatchers on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @CrumbSnatchersOne.