With childhood obesity rates on the rise, the absence of physical education in most public elementary schools in our area, and the prominence of less-than-healthy options in our school cafeterias, the lowly brown bag lunch has returned as a healthy option for keeping kids fit and ready to learn! I have surfed the web to find ideas galore from savvy parents who are bent on beating the trend toward high-calorie, low nutrient density, highly refined, high sodium or high sugar options. Instead, they are opting for more fruits and veggies, lean protein, healthy fats and foods rich in vitamins and minerals.
But how to get your kids to eat the healthy stuff, you may ask? Well, your example as parent is paramount, in addition to accessibility and presentation. When everyone in the family is on board, the family can plan meals and shop together, posting menus on the refrigerator, if you wish. Keep fruits and veggies pre-chopped and ready to go, so kids and parents alike can grab and go – make it as easy as reaching for a bag of chips! And how about this – enclose a little note with a short message of love and affection – "You look great today!" "We love you so much!" "Thank you for doing the dishes last night!" then decorate that bag or lunch box with stickers of their favorite characters - what a fun idea! Here are some healthy brown bag lunch choices, to mix and match.
- Tortillas (corn or flour)
- English muffins
- Dinner rolls
- Whole wheat bread
- Gluten-free bread
- Eggs (or egg whites) – omelet-style or hard-boiled
- Turkey slices
- Roasted chicken breast
- Cheese – give soy cheese a try!
- Soy lunch meats – tofurkey, tofu bologna, etc.
- Chicken or tuna salad, prepared with nonfat mayo or soy mayo
- Peanut butter and banana, or jelly, or dill pickles, or apple slices, or honey....
Feeling unprepared one morning?
Time for the "Lunchable Option!" Simply stuff whatever you have on hand in baggies or a Tupperware container in any combination:
- Cubes of cheese
- Soy sandwich meats
- Pre-cut veggies
- Sliced or cubed fruit
- Dried fruit
- Unsalted nuts
- A handful of dry granola.
What fun they'll have literally playing with their food, and you'll be glad they're eating healthy, unprocessed, nitrate-free food that will keep them running at full throttle throughout their busy day's activities!