Studies show that kids who maintain a healthy diet do better in school. We know busy moms are always looking for simple ways to pack wholesome lunches for their children, especially when they’re surrounded by holiday treats this time of year. So, we have compiled seven simple tips that moms can use to create easy, delicious and nutritious lunches for their kids.
Shop the periphery
Did you know that 80 percent of healthy shopping can be done around the periphery of the store? Fill your shopping cart with fruits and vegetables first, move to the deli for lean meat packed with protein, add low-fat dairy and then whole grains. To complete a packed lunch, visit the middle aisles for low-fat fun foods. Keep these suggestions in mind when you prepare your holiday meals, and you’ll have healthy, guilt-free leftovers for your kids’ lunches. Make the most of your holiday leftovers by making kid-friendly dishes.
Put together a lunch using food groups for optimal health
Think food groups: two grains, two ounces of lean protein, one dairy, one fruit, one vegetable and a fun food. For holiday leftovers, try turkey, whole wheat stuffing, green beans, fresh cranberries, low-fat milk and a small slice of pumpkin pie for a delicious, nutritious lunch.
Know how much to pack
A solid lunch for growing children should contain 350 to 800 calories, depending on age and activity level. Not sure how many calories your holiday leftovers contain or what size portion to pack? Learn more about how to read food labels or use a simple online calorie calculator.
Get kids involved
If you get kids involved in making their meals, they are more likely to eat them. Have your kids help make their own Thanksgiving sandwich. Start with two slices of wheat or rye bread, add two tablespoons of cranberry sauce, three tablespoons of stuffing, a slice of lettuce, top with four ounces of leftover turkey slices. You can also add a bit more zest with Dijon mustard.
Another easy tip for making more delicious sandwiches is to pack the tomato in a separate container or plastic bag to prevent soggy bread. Simply add the tomato when you’re ready to eat.
Choose lean deli meat
Lean deli meat is a good source of protein when you’re out of leftover fresh turkey. It is important to choose brands that contain no trans fats, fillers, MSG or gluten.
Think about portability when shopping at the grocery store as this will make it easier to grab and eat at lunch when time can be short.
Know how often
Growing children need to eat every three to four hours. Most children have early lunches and are starving by 3 p.m. Adding a little afternoon snack into the lunch box such as turkey deli rolls or cheese slices, and crackers with fruit or a granola bar can help stave off eating too much when they get home from school.
By following these seven simple tips, you can ensure your kids will have healthy, delicious meals during the holiday season and throughout the year.