Healthy Food Choices – Packing School Lunches

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 13,389
    Dietitian Sonya Kaster discusses strategies and healthy items to include in your child’s school lunch.

    Sonya Kaster: Hi! I am Sonya Kaster with the Oliver Foundation, and we've been talking about ways to make healthy choices on the go. So now, let's see how we can make some healthy choices when we pack our child's school lunch.

    This is something that you might typically find in a school lunch. While they did put a pear in the school lunch which is a great on-the-go choice and actually having a turkey sandwich with cheese is a pretty good choice as well, but then we have a really big, super-size bag of the tortilla chips and then they've have also included a can of pop, as well as a really high sugar and high fat choice for granola.

    So how do we pack a healthy school lunch for our children and more importantly, how do we put choices in there that will not only be good for their health, but also be something that they are actually going to eat?

    One of the ways you can do this is actually to make a game out of shopping at grocery store with your child. Give them four or five dollars and actually let them know that they are going to be able to spend that money by actually shopping around the parameter of the store which is where you are going to find most of the healthy choices in a grocery store, and actually have them pick out some things that they can include in their school lunchYou remember our sandwich and apple and, what if, what we actually did with that was we took that same sandwich and then we also provided some different vegetable choices, whether that's going to be things like the lattice and tomato that you can put into a different container or may be we can actually do some other spring mix or some cucumbers. Remember to keep that variety there that the more colorful those fruits and vegetables are the healthier choice that's going to beSo we have taken this same turkey and cheese sandwich on 100% whole wheat bread. We've added some fruits and vegetables to it that we've had our child help us plan out, and then that's going to be something that they are going to be a little bit more readily acceptable to.

    Another thing you can do is actually to pack little baby carrots in there. And again, if you notice, I am really trying to use just the small snack size bags. You can't fit a whole lot in here and that's really going to help with your portion control Kids love finger foods. While some of us may think it's the actual items in this package that they like; the fact is it's the pack that they get to touch and play with their food while they get to eat it. So let's do the same sort of thing but let's use that with like pita bread. So what about if we were to actually include them in making a wrap. So we could actually take the wrap itself, provide in a container in the lunch box with the lattice and tomato, maybe they'll like green bell peppers, may be they like carrots, or do they like cheese, of course, low fat cheese, and then we can include that turkey as well. And then here you have where they can actually create their own wrap, so not only have we given them a healthier choice than the prepackaged meal but they've also still been able to play with it.

    So rather than pack your child's lunch with the sports drink or a soda pop, why not have them buy a milk choice at school. Make sure that you encourage them to have either 1% or fat-free and remember that they can also choose the chocolate or strawberry if your campus makes that available, and getting that calcium is really important for those children.

    Just like you, your child likes to have something sweet at the end of their meal, and that's alright, whether it's going to be a fruit choice or instead of using the very large chocolate chip cookie, a couple of cookies of this size are really going to be much more appropriate serving size; in this case, size really does matter. That way you can go ahead and have a healthy choice and actually save those calories. But remember, you can also use things whether it's yoghurt or the little pudding cups, maybe even use a little flavored apple sauces. Those are really going to be very well acceptedFor your child, it's really that they just want a little something to finish off that meal with something sweet. So why not make it a healthy choice for their school lunch.