Healthy Snacks for Your Kids' Lunchbox
If you’re a parent with kids in school, then you probably have very little time to fret about your kids’ lunch choices. Many children go to school with lunch money and proceed to spend it on candy and chips. Not exactly the type of healthy lunch you expected them to have! If you want your kids to have a healthy, balanced lunch, you are better off to make it at home. Keep reading for some quick and easy ideas for a healthier lunchbox. . .
It’s simply a sign of the times: school foods are no longer “home-made” at the school cafeteria. Most school lunches are delivered by a service, and unfortunately are loaded with preservatives, additives, salt, sugar and the dreaded high fructose corn syrup.
But don’t despair. Making a healthy lunch for kids at home is not difficult, nor time consuming. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Fruit, Fruit and More Fruit
Instead of offering pre-packaged cakes or other snacks that are high in fat as well as sugar, why not give your kids something that is naturally sweet for dessert? Fruits such as grapes, strawberries, apple slices and oranges are full of essential nutrients and will satisfy the sweet craving your kids may have after a meal. All of these fruits can be cleaned or peeled and put into portable containers for easy storage in their lunch bags.
Dried fruit, such as raisins, cranberries and mango, can also be an option. Just be careful with this choice as some dried fruits can be very high in sugar.
The sooner you introduce your kids to fruit as a fun snack, the more inclined they are to want to have it instead of cookies on a regular basis.
Peanut Butter (Skip the Jelly)
Peanut butter and jelly is probably one of the most traditional kid snacks known. And despite its relatively high fat content, peanut butter is filled with protein and fiber. But you might want to skip the jelly in your next PB&J. Jellies and jams are often high in sugar, and offer little nutritional value. Instead, try a peanut butter and banana sandwich, made on whole-grain bread. This is a much better sandwich option than the processed meat that you get at the deli and will give your child a boost of energy for the entire day.
Say NO to Soda
If your child is older, he or she may have a soda machine at school. But just say NO to soft drinks! Many people end up gaining weight not because of what they eat, but because of what they drink. Soda is a prime culprit. And recent research indicates that even small amounts of soda can lead to harmful health conditions. Water is much better, much healthier, and does a better job of quenching thirst.
Also, beware of so-called healthy vitamin drinks or energy drinks. And, juice boxes, while seemingly innocent, are typically nothing more than sugared water. Give your child a refillable water bottle to take to school instead.
Cheese is an excellent source of Vitamin D and calcium, and cheese cubes can easily be cut up and put into a portable container for a healthy lunch. Opt for low-fat versions of your kid’s favorite cheese variety, and you’ve just made their lunch even healthier. You are better off to chop up cheese cubes yourself from real cheese than use the processed versions that are often prevalent at the grocery store.
The key to preparing healthy lunches for kids is to limit the amount of foods that offer no nutritional value or are high in preservatives and encourage foods that are actually good for your kids. By putting healthy foods into your kid’s lunchbox and making these foods easy for your kids to eat, you are giving them a healthy lunch that they can enjoy daily.