Darcie Maranich

 

By now, most school-age children have returned to the classroom. I know that there exists an entire population of parents who rejoice when the back to school bell sounds for the first time. I, however, am not among them. For our family, the school year signifies a return to busy weeknights filled with sports practice or clubs or extracurricular activities. It means that dinner is rushed so as to squeeze in time for homework. The return to school also means that we have to get up early and zip through the morning routine of teeth brushing and dressing and eating breakfast. My biggest complaint about the school year, though? Making lunches. The daily drone of packing the lunchbox exhausts my creativity. Still, I persevere because I’ve witnessed what they serve in the cafeteria lunch line and I’m here to tell you that tater totz and chk’n nuggets do not a healthy meal make. No sir. If you, too, have already fallen into a lunch packing rut, here are some suggestions on healthy (and relatively easy) items to pack in your child’s lunch.

  • o Whole-wheat English muffin pizza
  • o Black bean, tomato, corn and avocado salad with organic blue corn tortilla chips
  • o Hummus and multi-colored pepper strips
  • o Watermelon cubes on a stick
  • o Peanut butter-filled pretzels
  • o Caprese salad kabobs with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and basil
  • o Plum slices
  • o Baby carrots with buttermilk ranch for dipping
  • o Hard-boiled egg
  • o Fruit salad
  • o Whole-wheat pita stuffed with cucumbers, tomatoes, olives and feta
  • o Peanut butter and banana roll ups in a whole wheat tortilla
  • o Green apple slices and cheddar cubes
  • o Kiwi slices
  • o Whole-wheat pasta spirals in basil pesto
  • o Whole-wheat tortilla quesadillas with black beans
  • o Pear slices with cinnamon cream cheese for dipping
  • o Ham and cheddar kabobs
  • o Mini cucumber sandwiches
  • o Blueberries and strawberry slices
  • o Veggie roll-ups with shredded carrot, cucumber, leafy greens and ranch
  • o Cashew and raisin trail mix
  • o Celery boats with peanut butter
  • o Pineapple spears
  • o Broccolini with hummus
  • o Bacon, avocado, lettuce and tomato spring rolls
  • And here are a handful of tips for ensuring that the healthy foods you pack in your child’s lunch end up in his or her belly, as opposed to the school dumpster:
  • o Use mini cookie cutters to cut soft foods like cheese and cucumber slices into fun shapes
  • o Include a little note in your child’s lunch (extra credit for knock-knock jokes!)
  • o Try not to include the same foods day after day – keep it exciting and fresh!
  • o It’s perfectly acceptable to pack a little treat. Think along the lines of fresh raspberries stuffed with a dark chocolate chip
  • o Do include ice packs – nobody likes wilty cheese sticks

Hopefully these suggestions will get your school year lunch making off to a great start!

(1) comment

John Flanagan

Lunches for school? That is a no brainer. My mother's approach when I was an elementary school was easy. I liked peanut butter and jelly sandwiches most of the time, so she made them....lots of nutrition and protein, plus carbs to get through the school day. Alternate with cold cuts, egg sandwich, plus one cookie, and milk. No big deal. If the kids complain...tell them it's tough...and throw at them the old story about people are starving in the world and they need to appreciate a good lunch.

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