We all want to make sure our kids eat right, but let's face it, there are times when we hand them healthy food and they just turn up their little noses. When they pack their lunches for school, it gets even trickier. After all, it's really easy to just throw some prepackaged stuff in a paper sack. Don't worry, though. There are plenty of options for healthy lunchbox foods that are tasty enough your kids will want to eat them. Some require a bit of time and creativity, but the payoff is worth it: you end up with kids who enjoy healthy meals. Not only that, kids who learn to eat healthy while they're young will end up being adults who make healthy food choices.
Don't hold back on fruit. Most kids love fruit, in all different forms, so load up on grapes, bananas and apples. You can also chop fruit up and put it in a small plastic container, which is perfect for strawberries, pears, peaches and oranges. If your child isn't a fan of fresh fruit--some kids don't like the mushiness--then try them on dried fruit. Use a dehydrator or your oven to create banana chips, dried apples or even pineapple snacks.
Have a decent ratio of protein to carbohydrates. While sandwiches make for easy handling, consider a wrap instead. Use a tortilla or flatbread to roll up some sliced turkey, a bit of low-fat cheese and some lettuce. This cuts down on your carb-laden breads and prevents your child from consuming empty calories. You can also add bran muffins or granola bars to help increase your child's fiber intake.
Don't forget the veggies, either. Kids who might not eat cooked vegetables often enjoy them raw. Pack some baby carrots or celery sticks for nibbling. Raw broccoli or chopped jicama make excellent lunchtime snacks. If your child is a dipper, pack a small container of low-fat ranch dressing or other dip as a companion to the veggies.
Remember to add dairy. A lot of kids don't get enough dairy in their diets, so cheese or yogurt is a perfect addition to lunchtime meals. Instead of buying prepackaged individual servings of yogurt, get some plain or vanilla yogurt and add berries or granola to it. Chunks of cheese are great finger foods, especially for younger children.
Don't skimp on drinks. Eliminate sodas and high-sugar fruit juice. Instead, offer water bottles and milk. Here's a tip: freeze the water bottle the night before, and then pack it in the lunch box. It will keep the lunch cold, but be thawed by the time your child has lunch at school.