Teach your child to make healthy choices at school or prepare a sack lunch every day if you want to guarantee that your child eats a nutritious lunch at school. I've made my fair share of school lunches as a mother of four children. It's not always necessary for parents to pack a lunch for their children to bring to school. While teaching your child how to make good food selections, packing lunches for school provides your youngster agency. Additionally, it gives the family more time during the busy morning ritual. Using the detailed instructions below, teach your youngster to pack his own lunches for school.

5 Tips for Packing School Lunches

Here are some quick tips from this pediatric nutritionist and mom to help you keep nutrition front and center.

1. Include Most Food Groups in School Lunch

Whole grains, fruit, vegetables, meat and its substitutes, dairy, and dairy products make up the five food groups. A serving from each food group should be included. For a nutritious, well-balanced lunch, focus on at least 3 to 4 food groups.
Here are some suggestions for kid-friendly packed lunches:

  • Hard-boiled eggs, toast with nut-free butter like Wow Butter (cut into fingers and wrapped in foil to maintain crunchiness), red pepper slices, and grapes.
  • Tuna wrap with lettuce, baby carrots, applesauce, and milk to drink
  • Whole grain bagel with cream cheese and turkey, fresh berries, and a frozen vanilla yogurt stick (wrapped in tinfoil to prevent “sweating”)

2. Cook Food in Bulk

Bake a large batch of whole grain muffins or oatmeal cookies on the weekends or in the evenings when you have some spare time, and then freeze them in plastic zipper bags. Make extra food for the evening meal so that it can be easily transformed into leftovers for lunch. In addition to saving you time when packing a sack lunch, cooking in bulk also provides a lot of diversity to the typical lunch options.

3. Plan the Lunch Menu and Prepare in Advance

As much as you can, prepare fruits and vegetables in advance, portion out yogurt or leftovers into individual servings, and fill drink containers the night before. The more in advance planning you can do, the more probable it is that you will pack wholesome foods and skip the morning rush.

4. Ensure Your Sack Lunch is Safe

To keep cold food cold, put ice packs in an insulated lunch bag. If you intend to bring something warm, such as chili, soup, spaghetti, or scrambled eggs, remember to warm up both the meal and the thermos it will be stored in. To prevent food borne disease, dispose of any leftover refrigerated food.

5. Involve Your Child in Food Decisions for School Lunch

Encourage your youngster to help you prepare his or her lunch in an age-appropriate manner. Older kids can make their own sandwiches or wraps, while younger kids can help portion out items like yogurt or trail mix. Make a list of wholesome foods that your child will eat. Refer to this list whenever you're unsure about what to bring for a certain day. Along with your child, revise and update it frequently as the year goes on.

DIY Guidelines for a Healthy School Lunch

First graders are at a great age to take a role in packing lunch.

But they need some help-

  • They don’t really know what goes into a balanced, healthy lunch.
  • It’s still hard for them to prepare food quickly, so assembly needs to be easy.

No matter your child’s age, you can support him by setting guidelines about what goes into a lunch and then let him make a reasonable choice.

For example, teach your child about what a healthy lunch menu includes by setting some guidelines:

Food Groups for a Healthy Lunch

  • Protein sources
  • Grains
  • Fruit and/or vegetables
  • Dairy (or a non-dairy substitute)
  • Healthy fats (optional)

Encourage Autonomy With Options

Next, enable his independence by giving him reasonable options for each of those key foods. For example:

  • Protein: Turkey or yogurt
  • Grain: Bread or crackers
  • Fruit: Grapes or applesauce
  • Veggie: Carrot coins or celery sticks (you can alternate fruit and veggies or if he will eat both, do both)
  • Dairy: Cheese or milk

Your youngster brings his own lunch, right? How can you tell if it is healthy? Involving your child reduces your workload by teaching him how to prepare a healthy school lunch on his own. A happy and healthy school year is here! Have fun moving!