Posted: November 30, 2017 | Author: Judy Drilling, Second Grade Teacher and Dietitian

Eating well means eating a variety of foods. From planning to packing, get everyone in the family involved when making meals and snacks. Include your kids in the process. Ask them what they’d like for lunch. (If they don’t eat what you packed, they aren’t getting any nutritional benefit.) Give them healthy options to choose from. Take your children grocery shopping and let them choose some of their favorite breads, vegetables, fruit, and yogurt. They’ll be more likely to eat a lunch they choose.

MyPlate

MyPlate illustrationThe current USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) nutrition guide for children is MyPlate.

MyPlate is meant to provide very general guidelines. For each meal, divide the plate into approximately four quadrants and fill each with all-star foods such as lean meats, beans or nuts, grains, fruits and vegetables. Add a glass of milk, a serving of cheese or yogurt and you should have a complete meal. MyPlate is an example of what a “balanced meal” should look like, so keep it in mind when planning lunches.

Planning

It’s important to be organized and enjoy less preparation time in the morning. Pack shelf-stable milk boxes in the fridge before going to bed. That way it will be cold in the morning and will help keep your kid’s lunch cold. If you’re packing sandwiches, wash and dry the lettuce leaves the night before, and have them in a bag ready to go. Cut up your veggies before going to bed—have bell peppers, carrots, and cucumbers ready with a small container of dip. Boil whole wheat pasta the night before and it will be ready to go in the morning. Older children can help make sandwiches or stuff pitas, while younger children can place snacks in containers.

It helps to present food in a kid-friendly way. Think about how the food is packaged. Use small containers and include little utensils. (That’s why Bento Box lunches are so appealing.)

When planning lunch for your child, think about color, flavor, nutrition, and seasonality. Keep in mind that children experience food using taste, touch, and sight. Have a variety of tastes and textures. Cut sandwiches into diamonds or use cookie cutters. Change the bread, try different grains. Use pitas, flatbread, tortillas, bagels or cereal. Offer various types of cheese in different forms (cubes, strings, slices, and balls). Kids love to dip. Use cottage cheese, hummus, yogurt, or guacamole as healthy dips.

Your child’s taste may change from one day to the next. Try new foods regularly and don’t be afraid to try them more than once. You may have to offer new foods many times before they learn to like them!

Non-Sandwich Ideas

Here are some non-sandwich ideas when thinking outside the (lunch) box:

  • Pasta Salad:
    Cook whole wheat rotini. Add leftover chicken, feta cheese, diced peppers, zucchini, corn, and some Italian dressing
  • Kabobs:
    Use cheese cubes and leftover chicken. Then add grapes, melon cubes or berries in between.
  • Chicken Salad:
    Cube chicken and mix with plain Greek yogurt and some low-fat mayonnaise. Then add nuts, diced grapes or apples, or diced avocado.
  • Quesadillas:
    Heat a tortilla and add beans, veggies, and cheese. Wrap it in foil.

Don’t forget that snacks are an opportunity to weave in nutritious items. Learn more: Making Great Tasting Snacks.

About Judy Drilling

Judy Drilling is a second grade teacher here at Yorkshire Academy. Besides having her Masters in Education, she has a degree in Dietetics. She has provided nutrition education in hospital, clinic, and school settings and can translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living. Judy has enjoyed using her nutrition expertise to help individuals make unique, positive lifestyle changes.

“Good Nutrition Is My Ambition!”