Tips for Packing Healthy School Lunches
A healthy school lunch should always include the following four features:
1) A healthy protein package
2) At least 1 piece of produce — the more the better!
3) A calcium-rich food
*Note: these features can certainly overlap.
Dr. Ann’s Top Picks Within These 4 Essential Categories:
- A Healthy Protein Package
- Sliced lean deli meats (turkey, chicken, roast beef), canned tuna salad, canned salmon salad, peanut butter, almond butter, packaged pre-cut roasted chicken strips, chicken you pull from a grocery store rotisserie chicken, hummus, omega 3-egg salad, and sliced 2% milk or part-skim cheeses are great.
- Always use 100% whole grain breads, and make things more interesting by substituting whole grain tortillas, bagels, pitas, or English muffins
- Add veggies – lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, sprouts, etc. where possible
- Remember the deeper the color, the more health-boosting power it has
- There are loads of kid-friendly veggies that are perfect for school lunches, including baby carrots, celery sticks, sweet bell pepper strips, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli florets
- Kids love dips – include a small container of hummus or low-fat salad dressing for their dipping pleasure!
- Any fruit is fine, but the Superstars are ideal, including berries, cherries, plums, any whole citrus, mangoes, kiwi, apples, cantaloupes, and red grapes
- A Calcium-Rich Food
- Cheese – avoid full-fat varieties. You can now find a wonderful array of reduced-fat cheeses on the grocery shelf, including 2% cheddar cheese in cubes, sticks, or other fun shapes, mozzarella cheese sticks, and 2% milk American cheese
- Low-fat yogurt in spoonable, drinkable or squeezable containers. Stoneyfield Farm is always my first choice.
- 2% or skim milk
- Calcium-fortified soy milk
- Calcium-fortified 100% orange juice
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