« Health & Fitness

How to Pack a Healthy School Lunch

by Christy Taylor

Packing lunch for the kids sadly, tends to be more about saving money and catering to your picky eater than about your child’s health! Who could blame you? Chips, cookies, and sweet drinks are not only the quick, easy, way to go—they’re also all that you know your child may actually EAT.
And, in the morning rush, it's easy to give in to the whining for chips instead of carrots. What you need to do is empower your children so they choose those carrots -- maybe not instead of chips, but at least with the chips. Experts offer these tips to help teach healthy habits and pack a winning school lunch for everyone:

  • Let children clean, peel or cut up fruits and vegetables…as age appropriate…If they feel invested in their lunch, they're more likely to eat it.
  • Let children select the dinner vegetable and then pack leftovers into their own lunchbox.
    Watch for foods that can pose a choking hazard for younger children. Be sure to cut food into small bites.
  • Don't force children to eat foods they don't like. This will help prevent mealtimes and food choices from becoming a battleground.
  • Substitute healthier ingredients for those less healthful ones your child enjoys.
  • Go for color! Colorful fruits and vegetables are nutrition powerhouses because they're loaded with good-for-you vitamins and minerals.
  • Take children grocery shopping when both you and they are not hungry. Let them choose food for their school lunch. If you eat before you shop, you're less likely to fill the cart with unplanned purchases.
  • Be aware of how companies market food to children. For example, something as simple as the foods children see from their eye level in a grocery cart to Web-based games featuring popular characters off the cereal box can impact your child's stated preferences.