Balance is Key
One of the most important things for meeting your child’s nutrition needs, is first thinking about balance. A balanced lunch should comprise a mix of food groups to provide essential nutrients. Include a source of protein (e.g., lean meat, beans, tofu) to support growth. Incorporate grains, which ideally are whole grains (e.g., whole wheat bread, quinoa, brown rice) for sustained energy and fiber. Don't forget to add a variety of fruits and vegetables to provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Fats and calcium-rich foods are other food groups you can consider including.
Keep It Colorful
Kids are often drawn to vibrant colors, and their lunchboxes can be no exception. Try incorporating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, as each color offers unique health benefits. From juicy red strawberries to crunchy green snap peas to brightly colored tangerines, the variety of colors will be more enticing and better meet their nutrition needs.
Don't Forget About Hydration
Include nutritious snacks that your child can enjoy throughout the day. I think of snacks as another opportunity to meet my kids nutrition needs. Opt for less processed options when able. Things like whole fruit, vegetables, yogurt, nuts, homemade granola bars, and popcorn are great options. Smart snacks keep energy levels stable and prevent hunger pangs.
Don't Forget About Hydration
Water is the best choice for hydration. Ensure your child has a refillable water bottle in their lunchbox to stay hydrated throughout the day. Avoid sugary drinks, as they can lead to unnecessary calories and dental issues.
Involve Your Child
Include your child in the lunch-packing process. Let them choose their favorite fruits, veggies, and snacks at the grocery store. By involving them, they'll feel empowered and more likely to eat what's in their lunchbox. Plus this may cut down on trying to constantly figure out what to pack for them.
Keep food safety in mind to prevent foodborne illnesses. Use insulated lunch bags or bento boxes and ice packs to keep perishable items cool. Encourage your child to wash their hands before eating.
Make lunchtime exciting by experimenting with shapes and presentations. Use cookie cutters to create fun shapes out of sandwiches, cheese, fruits and veggies. Bento-style lunchboxes can also add a touch of creativity and make mealtime more enjoyable. On that note, have you seen our new bento boxes? I saw the benefit of my boys being able to open a box and easily see what was for lunch. We then wanted to to take all the features we have liked in a bento box and make our own with fun designs. You can see our first design, The Berry Bento Box here.
Have a Plan
A little pre-thought when it comes to lunches for the week, may help you to making sure you have balanced lunches with variety for your kids. As part of the new guide I created for packing kids lunches, I added a page at the end that can be printed to plan out lunches and make a list of any foods you may need to make those lunches for the week. Download the Back to School Lunch Building Guide for the meal planner and meal idea inspiration.
Packing a child's lunch is a wonderful opportunity to show our love and care through nutritious and delicious choices. By considering the right balance of nutrients, offering a rainbow of colors, and catering to individual needs, we can ensure that each lunchbox is not just a meal, but a source of joy, nourishment, and healthy habits.