It’s easy to fall into a rut when it comes to feeding your kids lunches each day. Today, Vanessa Morley, a registered dietetic technician, shares tips for easy healthy lunches for your children (and you!) While many of these ideas are easier for meals eaten at home, some can be incorporated into school lunches as well.
When I think of kids’ food, I usually think of cartoon advertisements, sugary snacks and processed foods that are usually a vibrant color. Food manufacturers spend billions of dollars a year creating advertisements targeting our children with desirable animations and visuals that result in begging for their favorite meals and snacks. Food companies are teaching our children that vegetables are disgusting and sugar is sweet, but is this the lesson we want our kids learning at such a young age? To me, there shouldn’t be kids’ food; children should be getting the same healthy and nutritious foods that we feed our body. Here are some tips on healthy lunch ideas to make sure your child is getting the best food for their growing bodies.
Introducing many vegetables to your children at an early age is the best way to get them to enjoy them. Try to incorporate vegetables into as many meals as possible and talk to your children about why vegetables are so important for bodies and health. A hearty salad or vegetable soup is a great way to incorporate a lot of vegetables into one meal. When you do serve your child these meals, make sure to experience the healthy options with them; parent modeling has a huge influence on what your child eats and likes, especially if they see you enjoying it. If you can’t make the main dish vegetable based, make sure to add a lot of vegetables as a side, with dip or simply steamed.
Fruit is usually easier to incorporate into meals for your child, since it is naturally sweet and they seem to enjoy it more than leafy greens. Fruit is a great addition to salads, sandwiches or served as a side dish or snack. Make sure to serve fresh fruit; fruit canned in sweetened juices add more sugar to the fruit, which isn’t needed. Apples are delicious added to grilled cheeses or a turkey sandwich; citrus fruits are yummy in salads with a light vinaigrette dressing; and grapes and bananas act like a sweeter dessert when frozen.
Making simple switches throughout your pantry to whole grain pasta, flour, bread, brown rice and other whole grain options, is a great way to increase your family’s fiber intake. Whole grains also add the essential vitamins and minerals to your family’s diet, which are taken out of processed grain products. Whole grains can easily be incorporated into your child’s lunch–whole grain bread sandwiches, easy brown rice and vegetable stir fry, or whole grain pasta dishes.
All in all, remember that kids’ food can be healthy, unprocessed and don’t have to come out of a plastic box or bag. Keep your children healthy and happy with delicious vegetables, fruit and whole grains as part of their everyday meals!
Guest blogger Vanessa Morley is a registered dietetic technician and writes health blogs for Everyday Health and its Calorie Counter Tools.
Image credit: Kozzi
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