It’s back to school for kids across the country. Packing lunches is budget-friendly, and gives you total control of the nutrition that your child gets in the middle of the day. Be creative, too, so that lunch is enjoyed week after week.
Nutrition FIRST. Lunch should provide protein for growth, fluids for hydration, starch for energy, fruits & veggies for vitamins & minerals.
PROTEIN: nuts & nut butter, tofu cubes, reduced-fat cheese cubes or slices, cottage or ricotta cheese with fruit or veggies, tuna or salmon salad, hummus, black & kidney bean salad, leftover meatloaf or grilled chicken in a sandwich, hard cooked eggs, and leftover stew or chili.
FLUIDS: skim or 1% milk, water, vegetable or 100% fruit juice. The 2010 American Heart Association guidelines suggest no more than ½ -1 cup of 100% fruit juice per day for kids.
STARCHES: whole-grain bread, roll, tortilla, pita pocket or crackers; homemade muffins such as banana or carrot; potato or pasta salad, couscous or leftover rice stir fry.
FRUITS & VEGGIES: assorted raw veggies (peppers, cherry tomatoes, carrots & celery sticks, broccoli florets), avocado slices, coleslaw, 3-bean salad, veggie soup, fresh fruit in season, no- sugar-added fruit cups or fruit salad.