Healthy Eating

Pack a Lunch That’s Sure to Please Your Kid

Make the most of the midday meal
Pack a Lunch That’s Sure to Please Your Kid: Main Image
Sandwiches fuse the all-important trio of protein, carbohydrate, and fats.

Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but lunch is a close second. The contents of your child’s lunchbox will ensure a steady stream of nutrients flowing to the brain, keep blood sugar levels on keel, and instill lifelong healthy-eating habits.

The rules of thumb: aim for a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, and keep sugar, salt, and saturated fat to a minimum. Go for visual appeal with a variety of colors, shapes, and textures.

Protein packs punch

Sandwiches fuse the all-important trio of protein, carbohydrate, and fats.

Complex carbs—Don’t leave home without them

Don’t shy away from complex carbohydrates. Kids’ rapidly growing brains and bodies need the fuel.

Just desserts

Treats that satisfy the sweet tooth while achieving your nutritional goals abound. Try one of these:

  • Graham or animal crackers (preferably made with whole wheat flour), fruit leathers, fig bars, granola bars, pudding, or a piece of chocolate.
  • Fruit salad with a dash of yogurt and cinnamon, or applesauce sprinkled with raisins.
  • What to drink? Keep high-sugar fruit juices to a minimum or dilute them with water. Opt for water or protein- and calcium-rich soy milk or cow’s milk.

Think small

Some children are overwhelmed by large amounts of food, so make servings small and simple.

  • Cut sandwiches into easy-to-eat quarters.
  • Buy in bulk and transfer foods to reusable one-serving containers.
  • Cut fruit and vegetables into slices or small hunks.
  • Purchase mini-carrots, small tortillas, and kid-size crackers and snacks.

Think creatively

Be inventive. Play with your food. Your kids will catch on that eating can be fun.

  • Dust off your cookie cutters and make fun shapes in slices of cheese, bread, or apple.
  • Spice it up! Try a dash of cinnamon in applesauce, or lemon pepper on a turkey sandwich.
  • Introduce new flavors. Nori, a type of seaweed, makes a salty, crunchy snack. Sweet potato or taro chips can be an exotic, yet healthful, change as well.
  • Think themes. Combine a bean and cheese mini-burrito, tortilla chips, and a mini-container of salsa. For the adventuresome palate, try a few pieces of sushi (the cooked variety), soybeans, and rice crackers.
  • Switch out sandwich bread with an English muffin, tortilla, bagel, rice cakes, flatbread, or pita bread.

Make lunchtime a memorable affair for your kids with a little forethought, a dash of imagination, and a sprinkle of variety. Bon appétit.

Kathleen Finn is a Portland-area freelance writer and marketing consultant in the natural health industry. She is on a constant quest to creatively stock her daughter's lunchbox.