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March 17, 2017 • Kids Health

Tips for Packing Healthy School Lunches

watermelon-summer-little-girl-eating-watermelon-foodA 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:

  1. 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
  1. Produce
    • 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
  1. 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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