Growing up, what did your mom pack for your school lunch? Most likely, it was a sandwich of some sort (think bologna, ham and cheese or PB&J), chips or cookies and a piece of fruit at the bottom of the bag that was most likely tossed. It was probably the same lunch day after day — right? Nowadays, moms are going above and beyond and making their kids' lunches unique, healthy and tasty. Kids get variety each day and get to enjoy fun, healthy meals while at school. Let's take a look at some easy ways to spruce up your kid's lunch — you know, a little bit of this for a little bit of that.
Sandwiches for pitas
Out with the sandwiches, in with the pitas. Pitas are lower in calories than traditional bread, contain more nutrients, are easier to pack and kids love them. It's an easy switch but really makes all the difference in your kid's energy level and mood. Instead of loading them with carbs, you can load the sandwich with tasty fillings — including lean turkey, spinach, sprouts, fresh veggies and grilled chicken.
Try this tuna salad pita or this easy pita pizza recipe >>
Potato chips for veggies and hummus
A snack-size bag of Lays potato chips contains 160 calories and 10 grams of fat. They're loaded with sodium and leave kids feeling lethargic. Swap it out for freshly sliced veggies and a sweet, savory hummus dip. Ideas for veggies include baby carrots, celery, sliced red and yellow peppers, broccoli, cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumbers.
Kids (and moms!) love this untraditional black bean hummus >>
Pudding and Jell-O cups for yogurt parfaits
It may be easy to send your kid off to school with a pudding cup but easy doesn't always equate to healthy. Instead, make mini fruit and yogurt parfaits. Place low-fat vanilla yogurt in a small comtainer, top with fresh blueberries, raspberries or sliced strawberries and pack some low-fat granola on the side. On Friday, surprise your little one by placing mini chocolate chips on top of the fruit.
Check out these secrets to a great yogurt parfait >>
Nutella for almond butter
Kids go nuts for the gooey, hazelnut taste of Nutella — but it's high in both fat and calories and should be served as a once-in-a-while treat instead of a daily lunch item. Send your kids off to school with tasty, creamy almond butter instead. It's good for the heart and rich in antioxidants — providing your kids with the healthy boost they need to get through the remainder of the day. We love dipping banana chips or apple slices in almond butter!
Kids prefer cookies? Make these healthy almond butter oatmeal cookies, they won't know the difference!
Capri Sun for flavored water
Capri Sun may taste good, but unfortunately it's high in sugar and can leave your kids with a headache mid-day. Opt for flavored waters or no-calorie sports drinks, instead. You can even make your own flavored water by adding fresh fruit slices to a pitcher of water and refrigerating overnight. Pour in a thermos with ice the next day and add to your child's lunch!
Check out these flavored water recipes >>
Other simple swaps for healthier lunches
Making healthy school lunches for your kids may take a few extra minutes each day, but it's worth it in the long run. Start by making small, subtle changes in your kids' everyday lunches and go from there. Before you know it, your children will be asking you for healthy foods instead of Oreo cookies. It's every mom's dream!
More on healthy lunches