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Start the School Year Off Right
Can you believe kids will be starting school in a few weeks? Summer has flown by and it’s time to get back into a daily routine of packing lunches for school.
Some people think it is impossible to prepare a nutritious lunch but below are four tips that may help you prepare healthier packed lunches. To pack healthier lunches let’s start at the beginning and think “what does a healthier lunch include?”
A healthy lunch consists of 4 things:
- Whole grains
- Lean Meats
- Low-Fat Dairy
- Fruits and Vegetables
The best place I can recommend starting to plan healthier lunches MyPlate. This is a visual resource from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) current food guide. This food guide helps us learn about healthy meals rich in the five necessary food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy.
Check your shopping list before you go to the store to determine see if these food groups are present. Here are four tips for us who pack healthier lunches either for school or work:
Tip One - Prep vegetables and fruits the night before
This will help save time and research has shown that kids eat more fruits and vegetables when fruits and veggies are already cut up. You also can prep fruits and vegetable as soon as you bring them into your home from the store. I cannot get it all together in the mornings to pack a lunch. I start as soon as dinner is over. This is a time saver for me.
Tip Two - Add in healthy sides
Examples: unsweetened applesauce, 2% cheese sticks, flax crackers, and salsa, nuts, low-fat Greek yogurt, and fruit and veggie cups. A homemade cookie or whole-grain fig cookie is ok as a treat on some days.
Tips Three - Use portion boxes
There are many lunch boxes on the market that help keep portions in check. Get your kids involved in the process of picking out what foods go into each compartment to keep them excited. There are options at local stores and online.
Tip Four - Think outside the sandwich
Variety is key for both kids and adults to eat healthily. Try a wrap, pasta salad, black bean tacos, or if your school allows nut butters to make PB& C (peanut butter and dried cherries on a bagel flat).
For Over 25 recipes that make great lunches from Dinner Tonight:
If you would like more information about nutrition contact me or any one of our 75 County Extension offices across Arkansas.
“Start the School Year Off Right” Dinner Tonight Texas A&M Agrilife Extension on 8/2/2021.
USADA Food Nutrition and Services