All kids should have a healthy school lunch, but many schools just won’t provide it for one reason or another. If your kids’ school won’t provide a healthy lunch, it’s up to the parents to come up with a healthy lunch from home. Since this is your kid’s health we are talking about, I believe packing a lunch is well worth the effort!
There’s something special about the simple yet delicious taste of a sandwich. You can make it as healthy as you want, and it doesn’t need to be too complex. I suggest using whole wheat bread, using a brand that doesn’t use a lot of ingredients or any processed sugars. Avoid using white bread at all costs!
Here’s some quick and easy sandwiches that you can make for your kids for their school lunches:
• Deli - Get freshly slices meat from your local deli and add a slice of all natural cheese, romaine lettuce, and use a mayo replacement such as Veganaise. This sandwich will provide your kid with the fiber, protein, dairy, vitamins and minerals from the lettuce and healthy fats from the Veganaise which will help you absorb the nutrients.
• Peanut Butter and Jelly - There’s nothing wrong with sticking to the classics, it simple yet very delicious and healthy! Use whole wheat bread, organic peanut butter and a jelly or jam that doesn’t have any sugars added to it, such as a Just Fruit™ Spread by Crofter’s. With this sandwich, your kid is going to enjoy the benefits of healthy fiber from the bread, protein from the peanut butter, and glucose from the jelly or jam.
• Sprout and Tomato - Think your kids won’t like sprouts? Think again! Just spread Veganaise (mayo replacement) or mashed avocado to the bread (or whole wheat wrap!), add tomato slices with a few dashes of sea salt and pepper, then generously add the alfalfa or broccoli sprouts. You’d be surprised with how delicious this healthy sandwich is, and you’ll be glad to know your kids will love it too.
• Almond Butter and Honey - This is very similar to the classic PB & J, except the Almond Butter adds a different variety of protein and the honey is an all natural source of glucose. This is a great sandwich for your busy little bee (haha). I like to use almond butter more often than peanut butter, since almond butter doesn’t have any saturated fats. As much as I love peanut butter, I eat it sparingly because of the saturated fats. It’s still good for you, but in moderation (like anything else, really)
• Tuna or Salmon – Mix a can of tuna or salmon with Veganaise (mayo replacement), and put in a small container. Include 2 slices of bread (or occasionally some healthy crackers!) and let your kid add the tuna to the bread once they are ready to eat their tuna (or salmon) sandwich. This will allow for a fresh sandwich, without the soggy bread! Go ahead and add pickles or lettuce if you’d like.
I suggest providing your kids with a wholesome snack to accompany the sandwich, or to snack on in between meals. This is a great way for your kids to learn that when they are hungry and they want a snack, they will learn to reach for a fresh veggie rather than a cookie. Your kids not there yet? That’s ok. It happens one day at a time, and they need their parents to help guide them on what they should be eating when they are hungry. Your kids don’t need chips or cookies. Your kids need vitamins and minerals -you know, nutrients to fuel their body, help them grow up strong and healthy, and help keep their mind alert and ready to learn.
• Fresh Fruit - Give your children a variety of fresh fruits to snack on. Each day (or week), give your kid a different fruit to snack on, such as an apple, orange, watermelon, pear, or a variety of berries. These snacks are delicious, low calorie, and they are easy to pack in a school lunch. Also, your kids will appreciate the variety of different fruits (so they don’t get bored or them), and it’s great way to add a variety of nutrients to their developing body.
• Fresh Vegetables - Give your children a variety of fresh vegetables to snack on. Each day (or week), give your kid a different vegetable to snack on, such as carrots, broccoli, snow or sugar snap peas, sliced cucumbers, celery (with peanut or almond butter to dip in!), or sliced green and red peppers. Remember to provide variety for your kids, and try to coordinate them to go well with the fruit you are giving them.
• Protein - If you would like to give your kids protein (in addition to the sandwich), you can consider giving them a variety of mixed nuts, seeds, or even hard boiled eggs (with shell already removed).
The Friday Snack
It’s always fun to have a special little snack that’s healthy, but something you might not have every day. For example, fruit leather is delicious, but the real deal (aka, fresh fruit with nothing added or taken away), is always the healthiest choice. Of course, why not have a special little treat every once in awhile, such as every Friday? I think it’s a fun way to celebrate the weekend without destroying one’s health.
• Water - Are your kids drinking enough water throughout the day? Provide your kids with a refillable water bottle that they can use throughout the day. Help your kid figure out how much water they should be drinking every day, and make sure they bring it home on a regular basis so you can have it cleaned.
I don’t think that your kids really need to be drinking juice, since the whole fruit or vegetable is always the healthiest choice. Also, too many juices on the market have added sugars or corn syrup that just isn’t necessary.
Got flavored milk? What about regular milk? I don’t think bringing milk to school is necessary, especially when you consider it really should be kept in the refrigerator.
Make sure that you include an ice pack in the lunch box to keep the food cool and safe for your kid to eat when the time comes. If you don’t have an ice pack, stick to the foods that will be able to handle room temperature.
OK parents, any other healthy food suggestions you would like to add to this list? I appreciate your input!