Packing the kids’ lunches for school means you know which nutritious foods they are eating. Here are some budget-friendly, creative ideas to keep kids happy and healthy at lunchtime.
Make a “Smarter” Sandwich:
While some kids prefer the same thing every day, others may be okay with a slight switch to their sandwich.
- Use different breads like 100% whole wheat tortilla wraps (choose wraps low in saturated and made with no hydrogenated oils) or 100% whole wheat pita pockets.
- Besides lettuce, try shredded carrots or avocado slices with a turkey sandwich.
- Buy blocks of low fat, low-sodium cheeses. You save money when you slice it yourself. Or use a cookie cutter to cut into fun shapes.
- Instead of lunch meat, try a leftover grilled chicken sandwich with lettuce and tomato.
Love Those Leftovers:
Try using the leftovers from the family dinner for the next day’s lunch. Invest in a thermos to keep foods hot or cold until lunchtime.
- Low-sodium tomato, vegetable or bean soups
- Chili made with lean or extra lean ground turkey
- Whole wheat spaghetti with low sodium tomato sauce
- Low-sodium baked beans, bean casserole or beans & rice
Let Them Dunk:
Sometimes it is okay to let your kids play with their food, especially when they are getting extra nutrition.
- Apple and pear slices to dip into low-fat plain yogurt mixed with peanut butter.
- Carrot, celery and sweet pepper strips to dip into hummus, fresh salsa or homemade bean dip.
- Whole grain crackers (choose crackers low in sodium and saturated fat and made without hydrogenated oils) to dunk into low-sodium vegetable or tomato soup.
- Unsalted sunflower seeds, crushed whole wheat cereal and sliced banana to mix into low fat vanilla yogurt (no added sugars) to eat with a spoon like a sundae.
Get Them Involved:
While letting kids in the kitchen might mean a bigger mess, if they help pack their own lunch, they are more likely to eat it! On nights you have a bit more time, like a Sunday night, have them choose which piece of fruit or what type of whole grain bread they want and let them assemble their lunch. Make this a weekly routine – it’s another great way to spend family time together.
For more heart healthy lunch tips visit: www.heart.org