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Thursday, August 12, 2010

{recipe of the week} Healthy Lunchbox Ideas

{Image credit: EasyLunchboxes.com}
I am posting this again for the new school year and new readers...

In my teaching days I was always appalled at some of the contents in my students' lunchboxes... In fact, on more than one occasion I remember confiscating an extra large bag of Cheetos or (I'm not kidding) an entire package of Keebler Fudge Stripe cookies!

I get that it is the parent's choice to make the lunch and decide what goes into it (I don't want to start a debate), but with 30+ students it is hardly fair to expect a teacher to manage the highs and lows of all the students crashing on sugar and carbs.

Anyway, I would always start the school year with a handout to help parents make some healthy choices because, let's face it, sometimes you're just plum out of ideas. It was great to see my students trying new foods and, to be honest, those students who ate nutritious meals and snacks were the hardest workers, the most attentive, and did very well academically and socially.

With a new school year approaching, I thought I'd post my list of healthy lunch box ideas!
Some key points to remember for your child's lunch:
  1. Stimulate the senses - Provide lots of different colors, texture, and shapes so that is more appealing
  2. Make it easy - Kids thrive on independence so make sure your child can open it and feed it to themselves
  3. Try it at home first - A lunch box is not the perfect place to try out a new dish
  4. Make a list together - Let your child help brainstorm a list of healthy foods that they'd love to see in their lunch box
  5. Surprise them - What kid doesn't love a little love note, picture, sticker or other fun surprise in their lunch box?!
My favorite tip:
* Sprinkle Ground Flaxseed into dips, sandwiches, applesauce, yogurts, cottage cheese, etc. They won't even know it's in there and they will reap the benefits of those Omega-3s!!

Sandwiches & Main Eats:

* Use a hearty, no sugar-added whole grain bread, tortilla, pita or even whole grain waffles to create these fun sandwiches! To mix it up, use themed cookie cutters to create surprising shapes.
  • Grape and Melon Ball Kabobs
  • Applesauce
  • Mango slices
  • Pear or apple slices with cheese
  • Blueberries and Cottage Cheese
  • Banana with Peanut Butter Dip
  • Cubed Melon Mix
  • Dried Fruit (no sulfur)
  • Strawberries with yogurt dip
  • Sliced Kiwi and berries
  • Orange Slices
  • Peaches and Plums
  • Pineapple Spears
  • Papaya and Mango Chunks
  • Watermelon Slices
  • Stuffed Apples
* Chopped, diced, cubed or sliced into sticks -- be sure to pack enough veggies each day with dips such as a low-fat ranch, spinach dip or hummus.
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Carrot Sticks
  • Asparagus Spears (slightly blanched & marinated in Italian dressing)
  • Cubed Sweet Potatoes
  • Mushroom and Tomato Kabobs
  • Snap Peas
  • Broccoli and Cauliflower Florets
  • Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
  • Celery with Peanut Butter or Cream Cheese
  • Coleslaw
  • Jicama Sticks
  • Edamame
  • Zucchini Salad
  • Broccoli Salad
  • Cucumber Slices
  • Pepper Strips
  • Potato Salad
  • Spinach Salad
* A couple of cookies or a small brownie isn't going to hurt, but mix it up with these other tasty "sweet" treats:

My Favorite Lunch Box Gear:

Wrap-N-Mat Reusable Sandwich Wrap - I love the fact this is reusable and turns into a placemat as well. It can be washed easily and it's lead and BPA-FREE. Priced around $6.50 each and worth every penny!

Easy Lunchboxes - {pictured at the top} This is the best lunchbox system to turn your kids lunch ideas into school lunches they can’t resist, or make your own healthy meal ideas a snap to pack for work.

Crocodile Creek Lunch Boxes - My daughter's first lunch box turned out to have lead in it (eek!), so I was happy to find Crocodile Creek's padded lunch boxes are PVC free, phthalate free, and lead-safe. These are priced around $16, but you are sure to find them cheaper with the new school year approaching. They have many different designs too!  NOTE:  The Easy Lunchbox Containers fit inside perfectly! 

Crocodile Creek Water Bottles- A slightly new addition to Crocodile Creek's line of super-cute products... this water bottle bottle is smaller, a tad cheaper and made of stainless steel. And, I'm digging the cute designs too!
What other yummy eats do you include in your child's lunchbox??

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this list! I am always stumped when it comes to lunches. This will help if only I can get my boys to get vegetables, lol.