With the school year quickly approaching, it is time to start thinking about school lunches and how to make sure your kids have the proper nutrition to get them through the school days ahead. Packing the typical sandwich, apple, and bag of chips can get boring when done on a daily basis. Plus, that bag of chips is probably full of sodium, which can raise their blood pressure and increase their chances of developing heart disease or a stroke later in life.
Thankfully, we have some ideas for fun and healthy lunch box treats that we can’t wait to share with you.
Try packing these healthy lunch box treats for your student.
A sandwich is a great place to start when packing a healthy lunch for your kids. Don’t think that you are limited to those processed lunch meats either. Since your child’s lunch only needs to be stored for a few hours before lunchtime, you can get a bit more creative. Consider a sandwich made with fresh lean chicken or canned tuna. You can slice up meat left over from the previous night’s dinner, or a rotisserie chicken you have in the fridge this week. Layer on a piece of low-fat cheese, some lettuce, canola oil, avocado oil, or olive oil mayonnaise. You can even make a melt for your child by melting the cheese before the sandwich is packed.
Still need snack ideas for your picky eater? Parents often get held up on those extras when it comes to packing a lunch. It seems so easy to throw in a bag of graham crackers and chips to accompany that sandwich. But these aren’t always the healthiest of lunch box treats. So what are some other options that you can feel good about and that your kids will love too? Check out these five ideas.
1. Cinnamon Popcorn
Almost all kids love popcorn, but that buttery movie theater popcorn is laden with trans fat that isn’t the best for your kids. Instead of slathering on the butter, try sprinkling some cinnamon on white popcorn instead. The sweet flavor makes up for the loss of no butter and creates a bit of a salty-sweet treat that kids are sure to love. And if you need a bit of butter, stick to no more than 50 grams of butter for ⅓ cup of popcorn. Add two tablespoons of olive oil, two tablespoons of light brown sugar, and ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Then, make sure your child flosses before bed to loosen any popcorn kernels that have become stuck between the teeth and gums.
2. Ants on a Log
Provided your kids’ school doesn’t have any rules against peanut products, ants on a log tend to be a school-age kid favorite. Cut celery into small sticks, slather on a modest amount of your favorite creamy peanut butter, and let your child add a few raisins to complete the ensemble. Pack the ants in a log in a small plastic container in your child’s lunchbox.
3. Homemade Granola Bars
Granola bars are not only tasty, but when made at home with the right ingredients, can be good for you too. One of our favorite healthy homemade granola bar recipes combines rolled oats with shredded coconut, chia seeds, nut butter, honey, and flour. Toss in a few milk chocolate chips too to please your favorite student.
4. Cheese and Grape Skewers
Cheese is a tooth-friendly food option that almost all kids love, but a string cheese day after day can get a bit boring. Try making some skewers with toothpicks, cheddar cheese cubes, and green grapes. Make four or five and pack them in a Ziplock baggie or plastic container. This is a great way to get your kid to get protein, calcium, and much-needed vitamins such as Vitamin B6 and Potassium.
5. Guac and Chips
Guacamole, when prepared at home, is a delicious and healthy snack that the entire family will love. Keep the salt content to a minimum and make guacamole with avocados, red onion, cilantro, and lime juice. Toss in some jalapenos if your kids like a little bit of heat, and serve the guac with organic tortilla chips.
Pack healthy lunch box treats with love.
When you’re packing your child’s lunch, why not think a bit bigger than just what will fill their bellies? Pack some love too. Throw in a graphic novel if your child needs a little bit of time without stimulation overload during their lunch break. Or toss in a handwritten note from mom or dad. Kids love little surprises from their parents here and there, and what better place to surprise them than in their lunchbox where they will discover it mid-day?
Packing unhealthy school lunchbox treats can be a big contributor to tooth decay. Avoid items like soda, Lunchables, juice boxes, pop tarts, yogurt tubes, chocolate milk or other sugary snacks like Twinkies and Cosmic Brownies. We know your kids will love the taste, but these items are high in sugar and can cause your child to crash during the day vs. keeping them properly full so that they can focus on and absorb all that they’re learning.
Get your child excited about their oral health with healthy lunch box treats.
One of the best ways to get your kids excited about their lunch box treats is to include them in the planning process. Pick four or five healthy items and let your kids pick what they want the most. Take some time as a family to talk about the importance of healthy lunch box treats too so that when your child is faced with selecting an item at school, they have the information they need to make their own healthy decision. Finally, help teach your child about good oral health and the importance of brushing twice a day, flossing, and rinsing with a fluoridated mouthwash.
Finally, if you haven’t scheduled your child’s dental cleaning and oral examination, now is a great time to get that on the calendar. Request an appointment with We Make Kids Smile and make your child’s oral health a priority today. We’ll show you why we are the favorite children’s dentists near or in Prince Frederick and Waldorf, Maryland.