It’s that time of year again!!! With kids off to school they are again faced with the important question: what’s for lunch? With childhood obesity on the rise, having a nutritious lunch is an important part of an overall healthful diet. Since most kids consume one-third of their daily total calories at lunch, here are some tips on helping them eat more super-nutritious foods.
Pack It Yourself
• Plan ahead!! It helps to have all the right ingredients on hand for making the best lunch. You might even consider coming up with a weekly menu. Involve the kids in planning whenever possible.
• Avoid last-minute rushing by preparing all or part of lunch the night before.
• Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes with sandwiches, etc.
• Make sure you always include at least one fresh fruit or vegetable – both is even better!
• Hide special notes or cards in the lunch box.
• Best beverage bets include skim milk, water or 100% fruit juice.
• Try to use more low-fat snack and cookie items – see our list below for ideas.
• Remember food safety. It is best if you keep foods chilled in insulated lunch boxes with either an ice pack or frozen juice box. FMI visit www.fightbac.org.
• For advice on packing school lunches, visit KidsHealth online at www.kidshealth.org.
The School Lunch Line
• Obtain a school lunch menu and help your child make better decisions at home. Emphasize the importance of the basics:
- Eating enough fruits and vegetables
- Choosing items that are low in fat
- Keeping sugary foods as a treat, not a mainstay
- Having a variety of grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat protein and low-fat dairy items each day.
• Practice making better choices everywhere you go so your child is better equipped at the lunch line.
• Don’t like the menu offered at your child’s school? You can do something about it!!! Visit the USDA’s Web site with 10 steps for parents at www.fns.usda.gov. You will also find useful tips at this site.
By Theresa Hennig, MEd, RD
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world-famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. After a decade in food service for Hyatt Hotels, Judy launched Food and Health Communications to focus on flavor and health. She graduated with Summa Cum Laude distinction from Johnson and Wales University with a BS in Culinary Art, holds a master’s degree in Food Business from the Culinary Institute of America, 2 art certificates from UC Berkeley Extension, and runs a food photography studio where her love is creating fun recipes.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science and Dietary Guidelines to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.