Obesity is a major concern in our country and many parents have turned to healthy options that benefit the entire family, but with the school year underway, how do you continue to promote healthy habits, even when the kids are at school? Many school cafeterias have taken a healthier approach to lunch with healthier options, but if you have a picky eater or they just enjoy carrying a cool lunchbox, lunchtime can be a bit trickier.
On average a child needs 180 school lunches each year. While you can’t always keep your child from swapping an apple for a sweet treat, you can pack exciting, healthy lunches* that your kids won’t be willing to trade. Here are a few favorite lunchtime menus that are easy to pack and sure to impress:
- Pizzadillas: Even if it is cold, who doesn’t love pizza? Especially if it is shaped like a quesadilla! By using turkey pepperoni, fat-free flour tortillas and part-skim mozzarella cheese, you have a kid-friendly menu item that is not only delicious, but “secretly” healthy. Shhhhh! Your child will never know! Pack it with some carrots, low-fat ranch (doubles as dipping sauce for the carrots and pizzadillas) and one cup of unsweetened applesauce for a complete lunch under 300 calories.
- Beefy Sammie + Fruit Snack: Sandwiches can include a lot of sodium, so you want to make sure you balance out the meal with no-salt sides. The Beefy Sammie + Fruit Snack lunch box includes a delicious sandwich on whole-grain bread with lower-sodium roast beef, lettuce, tomato, white cheddar cheese and light mayonnaise. On the side, spice up a regular fruit cup by making fruit kabobs with pineapples and strawberries, and don’t forget a few unsalted peanuts to complete the lunch. Also, if your child doesn’t like roast beef, you can always substitute the meat, just opt for low-sodium varieties.
- Whole-Wheat PB&J: Does your child like a good ‘ole peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Give it a healthy twist by using a mini whole-wheat bagel instead of sliced bread. Add a bag of whole-grain chips and a banana to complete this healthy lunchbox treat.
- The Pita Pocketeer: Sandwiches are always more fun in a pita! Try stuffing one-half of a whole-wheat pita with mixed greens and this low-fat chicken salad that incorporates Greek yogurt and light mayonnaise. In addition to an apple, satisfy your child’s sweet tooth with four milk chocolate kisses and you have a lunch that is just about 446 calories.
These are just a few of the healthy options out there to enhance your child’s lunch menu this school year. From hummus to string cheese, the opportunities to eat healthy are endless. The best part is that several of these recipes also make good lunches for you!
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*Healthy, kid-friendly lunch recipes found at CookingLight.com.