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School Lunchbox Tips & Ideas

by
Sep 11th, 2020

The start of the school year is something we expect every year, yet it still manages to sneak up on us quicker than we expect. 

In the midst of buying pencils, workbooks and Dora the Explorer-themed art supplies, the last thing you end up thinking of is what you’ll be making for lunch on those busy, busy school days.

Out of all the supplies you can buy your child, one of the biggest things you can do to support your child’s learning is to provide them with a healthy, balanced and nutritious lunch. 

It’s so important for adults to maintain a healthy intake of vitamins, protein, minerals, carbs and fats, otherwise our mental and physical well-being can take a hit. If adults need such a balanced diet, then children are even more in need of nutrition that properly fuels their growing bodies and minds.

Healthy eating habits for children can improve cognitive function, physical development and emotional well-being, as well as strengthening their immune systems. There are many facets of healthy eating aside from the actual food, too, like habitual mealtimes and an intentional focus on setting a good example for a healthy lifestyle. 

There are 180 days in the school year, which means that your child will be eating lunch at school for over half of every year for twelve years straight. That’s 2,160 lunches in 12 years.

Children’s formative years are spent in school, so eating meals that encourage positive cognitive, immune, emotional and physical development are more important than we can imagine. 

Whether your child is doing school at home, in class or remotely online, you can always incorporate healthy and nutritious meals into your daily routine. Here are a few school lunchbox ideas and recipes you can make at home!

Tips on how to make a healthy and nutritious lunch

Water

When it comes to lunchbox drinks, sodas are cheap, tasty and popular with kids. However, regularly ingesting sodas can result in weight gain and a higher risk of tooth decay, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Even many fruit juices are labeled as “healthy” but are packed with added sugars.

Switch out juices and sodas with water. Children need about 4-8 glasses of water a day, depending on their age and size, to stay properly hydrated, so try to incorporate water into your child’s daily habit at much as possible.

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What kid doesn't love lunch! I think my favorite period in school was lunch. Was that your favorite time, too? ⁣ .⁣ .⁣ Feeding your kids a healthy balanced lunch is a top priority for most moms. Why not try these easy, yummy options like crackers with cheese or diced watermelon? ⁣ .⁣ .⁣ Reposted from @munchy.crunchy.lunch #momfoodblogger #Kidsfunfood #realfoodforkids #cookingwithkids #kidsinthekitchen #funfoodideas #minichef #foodiemum #kidscancook #kidsfoodideas #whatifeedmykid #kidsmeal #packedlunch #kidsfood #kidslunches #kidslunchboxes #kidslunchesforschool #kidslunchidea #kidlunches #kidlunch #bestlunchbox #recess # #kidslunch #kidslunches #whatmykideats #schoollunch #lunchboxideas #lunchboxinspo #crackersandcheese #healthylunchbox

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Involve children in preparing foods

When your children have the chance to choose their meals and help you make them, there’s a higher chance that they will end up enjoying their meals. After all, you’re more likely to eat healthy meals more regularly if you actually enjoy them, right?

Make it fun

It’s hard to make fresh fruit seem as exciting as a bag of Sour Patch kids, it’s true. But if you can prepare foods in fun ways and in colorful presentations, then your child is more likely to enjoy their meals.

Use small serving sizes and bento boxes to provide a wide variety of yummy foods that are colorful (think fruits and veggies). Use sandwich cutouts to make fun shapes, or cut melons into stars. The options are endless!

Go whole wheat

Whole wheat flour is processed in a way that keeps the bran, endosperm and germ that comes with the wheat grain, whereas white flour is made from just the endosperm. This is a fancy way of saying that whole grain bread offers more fiber, vitamins B6 and E, zinc and magnesium than white bread. This is an easy swap that you can make that really does make a big difference in the long run.

Natural sweets

Plenty of kids have a sweet tooth, and too often it's satiated by candies or sugary snacks. However, there are plenty of ways that you can incorporate healthy desserts into your kids’ lunchboxes. Make some oatmeal bars, banana cookies or no-bake peanut butter balls, or check out this list for more ideas!

Healthy fats

Fats are a part of our diet, but there are still good types of fats (unsaturated) and bad types (saturated and trans fats). Knowing what types of fats you are adding to your child’s meals can make a big difference in their overall health.

Regulate the amounts of full-fat dairy foods like yogurt, milk and cheese, and trim visible fat from meats like chicken, pork and beef. Try baking or roasting foods instead of frying them, and treat cakes, pastries and sweet snacks as more of a treat than a regular occurrence. These small swaps will add up over time and greatly benefit your child’s health.

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They say eggs are the perfect protein. Brody will eat 2-3 hard boiled eggs at a time. He’s a growing boy…..fast growing boy.⁣ .⁣ I included fresh raspberries, and blackberries for the fruit. The blackberries were so delicious, and probably the best I’ve ever tasted. Not sure why, maybe just a really good batch. Also, for little treat I included Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding. This is a must try, and a good source of nutrients for kids.⁣ .⁣ .⁣ Ingredients⁣ 1 handful red leaf lettuce⁣ 1/4 cup carrots steamed & chilled⁣ 1/4 cup tomatoes chopped⁣ 1/4 cup cucumbers chopped⁣ 1 1/2 hard boiled eggs sliced⁣ 1/4 cup garbanzo beans can⁣ 1 tablespoon black olives sliced in the can⁣ 1 ounce cheese babybel cheese⁣ 1 tablespoons sunflower seeds⁣ .⁣ .⁣ #fitkids #momlife #momblogger #mommyhood #momproblems #momfoodblogger #Kidsfunfood #realfoodforkids #cookingwithkids #kidsinthekitchen #funfoodideas #minichef #foodiemum #kidscancook #kidsfoodideas #whatifeedmykid #kidsmeal #packedlunch #kidsfood #kidslunches #kidslunchboxes #kidslunchesforschool #kidslunchidea #kidlunches #kidlunch #teammotherly #bloggermom #momprobs #busylittlechefs #colorfulfood

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Healthy lunchbox ideas

For more ideas on lunchbox combinations and shopping lists, check out this article on 12 easy and healthy school lunches!

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Welcome to a bento for Kai! I’m starting this account as inspiration for all the parents and caretakers our there packing lunches. These are my bento box lunches for my 3yo son, Kai. Our barnehage (kindergarten/daycare) is asking parents to provide all food because of corona, and it can be a challenge to come up with healthy ideas. Kai can be adventurous... and the pickiest kid on the block! He loves dan dan noodles so spicy they make him choke, but refuses Mac n cheese. He will drink soy sauce or maple syrup, but if I put ketchup on his plate it makes him cry. One of the big challenges of cooking for kids is they are constantly surprising you. I mean, how do you really cook for someone who changes what they like every day, and sometimes mid meal??? What works for us is exposure and adjusting my expectations. Some days the lunchbox comes home empty, sometimes he ate just the chips and fruit. But that doesn’t stop me from packing veggies and something new every day. Sometimes he has to see something 100 times before he suddenly decides it’s his favorite food. So I pack what I want and he eats what he wants. Oh and compartments, those help too! It helps me pack because I can cover all the food groups (a compartment for protein, one for veggies, 2 for fruit because we love fruit...). It also seems to help him eat because the food is separated, easier to see, less intimidating, and ya know, heaven forbid that the food he wants might be contaminated by touching another food. From top left, clockwise: Knekkebrød made with sourdough discard, nectarines, turkey coldcuts, tine gräddost, and Norwegian brunost (caramelized goat cheese), carrots, cucumber, and celery, dried unsweetened pineapple, and raisins. #bentobox #bento #bentoforkids #lunchbox #lunchboxideas #lunchtime #lunchboxideasforkids #lunchboxideas #lunchboxinspiration #lunchesforkids #luncheswithlove #kidslunchideas #kidslunch #kidslunchbox #kidslunchboxideas #kidslunchesforschool #kidslunches #healthykids #healthykidslunchbox #whattopackforlunch #cookingforkids #pickyeaters #lunchtime #bentoforkai #matboks #lunsjtips #barnasmat #matbokstips #mattilbarn

A post shared by Bento for Kai - by Lani (@bento.for.kai) on

When it comes to your child’s nutrition, it’s always worth going the extra mile to create healthy and nutritious school lunches. These lunches and tips are just ideas to get you started, and you should always choose the meals and foods that fit best with your family’s lifestyle and needs.

Whether your child is schooling at home or in school, you can use these lunches to give them the nutritional boost they need to succeed in every part of their day. And that’s always an A+ for you, too.

Enjoy!

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Featured photo courtesy Unsplash/Caroline Atwood

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

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