“I think many parents pack a nice lunch for their child and then question whether it’s surviving school lunch trades of chips, candy bars or cookies,” said Dr. Alice Stewart, a Marshfield Clinic pediatrician.
Take out the guesswork. Include children in the lunchbox process and they’ll be more apt to eat what’s packed.
Make packing the lunchbox hands-on
Letting children take part in lunchbox packing also can increase their interest about what goes into their lunchbox and teaches kids about good nutrition.
For small children, parents may have to be creative, like using cookie cutters to put peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into shapes.
Older children can be included in the shopping process. Encourage them to choose a variety of fruit and vegetable “colors” in their diet and meet MyPlate guidelines.
Let MyPlate guide lunchbox packing
“MyPlate covers the five basic food groups for a balanced diet and helps parents understand portions for their children,” Stewart said.
Include these portions in your child’s lunchbox:
- One-half lunchbox: Fruits and vegetables
- One-quarter lunchbox: Whole grains
- One-quarter lunchbox: Lean protein
Add dairy on the side.
“Additionally, think about the importance of fiber,” she said. “Use whole wheat bread or crackers rather than white bread and regular saltines.”
Mix and match food items for a healthy lunchbox
Keep the lunchbox less predictable and more fun by continuously switching up the meals.
Choose one item from each section in this lunchbox grocery list. Even better, have your child mix and match the items to come up with their favorite lunch menu.