I can’t believe it is back-to-school time. We were just enjoying Summer! But now it’s time to think about school. An important part of that is lunchtime. When you are putting your kids’ lunches together, the most important thing is to focus on balance. Instead of having all protein or all carbohydrates, you want a good balance between protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and fiber. This allows you to get a well-balanced lunch that is nutritious and taste at the same time. Here are some tips to aim for a healthy balance with school lunches.
This year is a bit different for our family. One son in college, and one in high school. It is a bit harder to monitor what our college son will eat. We just need to educate him on making the right choices, even though we aren’t there. As for our youngest, it is a bit easier. The schools work really hard to make sure that kids can aim for a healthy balance with school lunches, whether they buy in the cafeteria or bring their lunch from home.
So how do you get that healthy balance with school lunches? First you need to plan what you need, take into account what your children will eat, and go from there. If your child has specific diet restrictions or health issues, take the time to speak to a registered dietician, who can help you plan your lunch ideas.
Tips to Aim for a Healthy Balance with School Lunches:
How to Find the Right Balance
First of all, you need to know exactly what balance you are going for. The three main nutrients to be sure you include in your son or daughter’s lunch are a healthy fat, protein, and fiber. However, you will also be adding some other nutrients as well, such as fruits and veggies, whole grains, and carbohydrates. Though many of these other nutrients still fit within the first three you are aiming for. By using a Bento box(or something similar)you can include all these elements in healthy portion sizes.
Think of Meals That Combine Everything
Once you know what balance you are going for, you then need to start planning out the meals. One way to do is by thinking of meals for lunch that actually include all the important elements. For example, a wrap can have your whole grains in the tortilla, fruits and veggies inside, protein with the meat and cheese, which also contain your healthy fats, and fiber in the tortilla or bread as well. Some things that contain all important elements are sandwiches, wraps, and salads.
Use Multiple Food Items For Balance
Another option is instead of trying to put a ‘meal’ together, just include different food items in the lunch box that eventually make up the proper portions and balance between the various nutrients. This is where you really want to use a Bento box or other lunch box that includes different compartments inside. What you can do is use these compartments to make sure the kids lunches have enough balance in nutrients, while also controlling portion sizes. If there are four compartments, you can use one for your protein, one for veggies with fiber, one for fruit, and one for another snack, such as nuts and seeds, trail mix, or granola.
A good thing to do is have your kids help put lunches together, giving them options within each major food group so that they can pick and choose the elements, but are still achieving a balanced lunch every day. Working together with them will certainly make it an easier process.