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Quick and easy tips to packing a healthy lunch

Katarina Kovacevic is a freelance travel writer specializing in hotels and resorts. She's the author of The Food Lovers' Guide to Phoenix & Scottsdale and founder/editor of Style Jaunt, a blog about fashionable travel. Her work has appea...

Pack a delicious & healthy lunch

Life is busy and moms don't always have all the time in the world to consider what exactly goes into their children's lunches. Sure, it might be easy to grab one of those pre-packaged items from the grocery store or even easier just to hand the kid a fiver and have them pick out their own lunch at school. But a health-conscious, home packed lunch really is the best way to go and it doesn't have to be a chore.

A good and easy tip to keep in mind is to limit cheese on sandwiches and choose low fat or fat-free varieties at the store. Most cheeses are high in calcium, but also contain loads of saturated fat so a low fat option is a great way to still give kids the food they love. Similarly, you should choose lean meats like chicken, turkey, or tuna packed in water for sandwiches full of taste and protein.Every lunch should include at least one serving of fruit. Generally rich in vitamins A and C, fiber and water, fruits are a great sweet alternative to unhealthy candy options. Mix the typical apple and banana with more exotic varieties like pineapple and kiwi to keep your kids interested. Or, mix in several different kinds for a great fruit salad. Kids will love the different combinations of color and flavor. Pay attention to the kind of bread you choose, too. Instead of white bread, use whole grain versions that are high in fiber, vitamin B and iron. Take note, though. Even some bread that claim to be whole grain can be food-colored imposters. If the main flour listed on the label is wheat or unbleached wheat flour, the product isn't whole grain. Opt for breads that have whole wheat as the first ingredient.When it comes to drink options, one percent or fat-free milk is always a great source of calcium as is low-fat chocolate milk and calcium-fortified juices. If your child prefers juice, make sure you're choosing drinks with natural fruit juice without added fructose syrup and sugar. Good old-fashioned water always is a great addition, too. And the grunt work doesn't have to fall on you. Encourage your kids to get involved in the lunch-packing ceremony. It's a great way to bond and it teaches them healthy decision-making skills while developing their creativity.

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