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Healthy snacks and lunches for kids

Lisa is a mother of two and is currently working as a consultant and instructor at several Los Angeles Unified School District schools teaching "Kidding Around in the Kitchen" hands-on cooking classes such as "Cooks and Books," and "Food...

Snack & lunch ideas

As part of a healthy diet, your child should eat 3 main meals and 2 to 3 snacks a day. Snacks are an important part of daily food intake, especially for children. They need to be nutritious, tasty, and quick and easy to prepare. Having small, regular meals and snacks by choosing from all food groups (while watching fat intake) is a better approach than skipping meals and "binging" when hungry. The following snack ideas are suggestions for what to pack for school, or to prepare at home, between main meals.

Snack & lunch ideas

healthy School lunches

Fill the lunchbox with a variety of healthy foods. Be sure to include plenty of fresh fruit, salad, vegetables, and bread or low fat crackers. Put in low fat protein food such as meats, fish, dairy products, beans, or boiled eggs.

Try a variety of breads and rolls such as whole wheat, mixed grain, white high fiber, bagels, pita pockets, lavash, focaccia, and flat breads. Use margarine or butter and mayonnaise sparingly. If sandwich filling is moist (e.g., avocado, cheese, salad, etc.), try to leave out margarine and/or butter. Dairy foods and meat and eggs need to be kept cold. Put a frozen drink bottle in with the lunchbox or use a cooler bag. Cut sandwiches into strips or use a shape cutter for a novelty.

Try these sandwich fillings:

  • lean roast beef, lamb, or pork with tomato and lettuce
  • low fat cheese, pineapple, or assorted fruits
  • ricotta or cottage cheese, tuna, and snow peas
  • baked beans (drained) and grated low fat cheese
  • use avocado as a spread instead of margarine or mayonnaise
  • avocado, sprouts, and tomatoes
  • roast beef or pastrami with coleslaw
  • chopped egg, cucumber, and lettuce
  • chopped skinless chicken with a little mayonnaise and lettuce
  • tabouli salad, lettuce, and feta cheese
  • peanut butter lightly spread and topped with bananas or chopped dried fruit (e.g., apricots and raisins)
  • bananas mashed with ricotta cheese
  • hummus, sliced tomatoes, and sprouts
  • tuna or salmon with low fat mayonnaise

Quick TipCalcium is lacking in many children's diets, provide a calcium-rich food like reduced fat milk, cheese, or yogurt everyday in their lunchboxes or first thing on arrival home from school.

Up next: Home lunch ideas >>

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