Whether it's a day off from school or your packing your children's lunchboxes, making your kids lunch at home allows you to serve the foods they like while also being sure they're getting a nutritious meal. A noon meal helps your kids get nutrients that are essential to growth, development and overall health. Having a repertoire of lunch ideas means you can put together a meal quickly and easily any day of the week.
Nothing says lunchtime like a sandwich, and most kids are willing to eat them. Mix and match your child's favorite ingredients to keep things exciting. A sandwich can be healthy, too, provided it's made with something other than bologna and white bread. Use whole-wheat bread, which contains more fiber and iron than its white counterpart. Use lean meats, such as turkey or chicken, for protein and top it with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados or any other vegetable your child loves to eat for fiber and vitamins A and C. Go easy on mayonnaise since it's high in fat and calories. Nut butter with honey or jam is another yummy sandwich combination that appeals to kids. Serve the sandwich with fresh fruit or yogurt for an additional nutrient boost.
Most kids love a slice of pizza for lunch, but the school cafeteria and take-out options aren't that healthy. Revamping a favorite at home lets your child enjoy pizza without overdoing it on fat and calories. Use a whole-wheat tortilla or English muffin as your crust. This helps keep portion sizes in check and boosts your child's intake of fiber, B vitamins and iron. Spread the crust with tomato sauce and top with low-fat mozzarella for a hit of calcium. Add vegetable toppings, such as bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms or any other option your kid is willing to eat. This adds vitamins A and C, potassium and more fiber to the meal. Serve pizza with fruit and milk.
Many kids like to nibble, so offering a small bit of several finger foods is easy for home and school. It also provides a wide range of nutrients in one meal. Serve a couple of bites of each item so you don't have a ton of leftovers. Cherry tomatoes, celery sticks, baby carrots, grapes, berries and apple slices are good choices for vitamins A and C and fiber. Add whole-grain crackers for iron and sliced cheese for protein and calcium. A bit of yogurt makes a healthy dip for fruit and gives your child some extra calcium at the same time.
Making a bit of extra food at dinnertime makes it easy to pack up leftovers for lunch the next day. For a day at home, simply heat and serve. If you're packing leftovers in your child's lunchbox, heat them up in the morning and put them into an insulated container so they're still warm at lunch time. Vegetable soup with crackers or spaghetti with whole-wheat bread are choices that most kids are willing to eat and that contain fiber, vitamins A and C and protein. Wrap leftover beans in a whole-wheat tortilla with shredded cheese and avocado for fiber, healthy fats, protein and calcium.
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