Thinking back to when I was a child in school, I don’t remember what type of lunches my mom made or what I bought from the school cafeteria. I just remember trying to visit and talk to all my friends!
And that is one of the problems with getting our children to eat healthy while at school: we aren’t there to keep an eye on what they are eating or throwing away.
When my girls went to school, they disliked the school lunches so I gave them a choice of making them a lunch every day. I did this because I would know for sure they were getting healthy items. And as I talk to moms everywhere, they agree that the school lunches are not as healthy as what they want them to eat. (Note: some schools are trying to make the change to offering healthy foods).
But to make a lunch, everyday, for the rest of their school years is hard! Here are some tips that might help.
- 1. Ask your children what their favorite sandwiches, fruits and snacks are. Even though you feed them every day, you may be surprised at what they like!
- 2. Then, make an “idea” list of what you could pull together for their lunches. If I don’t have a list, I end up forgetting some great ideas that would really make my life easier.
3. Remember to keep it healthy! No processed foods (anything bought in a plastic wrap) and no white bread or white flour items: there should be a mix of fresh fruit and vegetables, good protein and carbohydrate choices and a healthy sweet item.
4. No sugary drinks. Or “Lunchables” which are heavy in salt and fat.
5. Create your lunches for the age of the child. Preschool and early elementary children love to have their sandwiches cut into cute, little shapes while teens want a lunch that will fill them up.
6. Invest in containers that work like those made specifically for lunches and sturdy lunch bags.
7. When you get home from the grocery store, spend some time preparing and storing all the fresh produce which will make putting the lunches together much easier.
8. Visit this wonderful blog site: http://bentolunch.blogspot.com for more ideas.
Here are some food ideas for school lunches:
- Mini-sliders: sandwiches made on mini hamburger buns or mini bagels.
- Cheese or hummus on whole-wheat crackers.
- Pasta salad or regular salad placed in a small container.
- Chicken legs or breasts.
- Celery sticks filled with peanut butter and raisins.
- Turkey or ham wraps. Wrap the meat around a stick of cheese.
- Sandwiches made with whole wheat tortillas instead of bread are a nice change.
- Boiled eggs, sliced with salt and pepper, placed in a container.
- Chicken nuggets that you make or buy that you know are real white chicken meat.
- Mini quiches made in large batches and frozen.
- Cut up vegetables with a low-fat dip and some cheese and yogurt.
With the above main course ideas, add cut up fruit and/or vegetables: baby carrots, small celery sticks, small bananas, boxes of raisins, grapes (cut up for small children), cut up apples, pears. Fill a container of melons, pineapple, grapefruit sections or mandarin oranges. If you want to add something salty, buy whole grain pretzels or baked whole grain chips or sweet potato chips.
As for sweet items, children just don’t need a candy bar in their lunches or multiple cookies. Strawberries, with sprinkled sugar on them, are a great sweet treat as is a small container of yogurt. Some cookie bar recipes are actually healthy.
Being a mom is a hard job. We are responsible for so many things. So God gave us a woman as an example in Proverbs 31 beginning in verse 10. One point to understand is that this woman didn’t do all of these activities in one week! She accomplished these things over her lifetime, in different seasons of her life. So when I read about how she took care of her household, it gives me a goal to reach. No, I might not want to cook dinner or make lunches every day. But I know that God wants me to and that makes all the difference!
“She provides food for her family.” Proverbs 31.15
Studies show that a surprising number of parents are unaware when their teens are under stress. And going back to school can cause some kids to become very stressed. Sometimes, stress causes teens to turn to dangerous or risky behavior as a way to “blow off steam.” Be aware of signs of stress as a change in eating habits or mood swings. And though they are trying to become independent and may act distant, they still want and need the approval and attention from parents and family. If you feel your teenager is becoming depressed or stressed, begin spending more time with them with the hopes that they will open up and share with you.
My best advice in raising your children is to read to them every night, even teens. They will feel safe and may begin to open up and talk with you more.
We all know that soft drinks aren’t a smart way to quench your thirst – making them a habit increases your risk of obesity and diabetes. And water, though the best choice can become boring. Studies show benefits from other ideas:
Orange juice: can help prevent inflammation to blood vessels.
Lemonade: can help ward off kidney stones. Mix four ounces of lemon juice with two liters of water.
Grape juice: is a good source of anthocyanins, antioxidants that seem to enhance brain function. In one study, older adults who drank Concord grape juice daily for 12 weeks showed significant improvement on memory tests.