Tips for Preparing Lunch

June 3, 2008 at 4:09 am Leave a comment

Offer a 4-way split

A healthy lunch should consist of a beverage (preferably water or milk) and:

  • 2-3 ounces of protein: turkey, chicken, tuna, peanut butter, humus, lite cheese, egg
  • Carbohydrate: whole grain bread, pita, wrap, crackers
  • Fruit: go for what’s in season
  • Vegetable: besides the usual carrots and celery, there’s cucumber, peppers, green beans, edamame

Its all about form

Just cutting a sandwich on the diagonal twice can taste better to some. Others, like my daughter, prefer finger food so give them rolled turkey slices with baked chips, fruit cut into bite-sized pieces, and carrot sticks. Or, peanut butter crackers or baked pita chips and humus. Wraps are a great way to combine vegetables (shredded lettuce or roasted peppers) and grilled, sliced chicken (which I drizzle with lite Caesar dressing—it’s a big hit).

The shape and size of fruit and vegetables can make all the difference between consumption and rejection. For example, sliced apples turn brown so save this fruit for breakfast or dinner. Instead, select fruits that hold up like orange slices cut thin and quartered, or melon cubes, or Clementine’s with their own easy to peel wrapper.

Try sending sliced vegetable with a lite dressing dip; dipping makes it fun so they’ll like eating it.

Involve Your Child(ren)
Sit down with your children and ask them for lunch ideas; have them help out with the food shopping or have them help prepare their lunch. When they’ve participated in the planning and preparation they are more likely to eat a healthy lunch.

Make it Look Good
Children, as with any of us, eat with our eyes first. This goes for a lunchbox that they are happy to be seen with. Then consider temperature. Soups, chili, pastas are great cold weather options but for them to still be good by lunchtime, use a stainless steel thermos. A good trick is to send pasta al dente because the food will continue to cook slowly while hot.

Similarly, use a cold pack to keep food chilled: this is particularly important for cheese, yogurt and sandwiches that contain mayonnaise or dressings.

Less is often more
How much is enough? Have your child bring home whatever’s uneaten; that way you can see how much is left. Time is as much an issue for many kids as the quantity of food. For many, a half of a sandwich may be enough with some oat pretzels, a cup of strawberries, and some carrot coins. So, if you see the second half of the sandwich coming home regularly, just send a half slice.

Pack for the Haul
Make sure that you use durable containers that can withstand being stuffed in a backpack, taken on a bus (or bike) ride, or surviving a long walk. Reusable containers tend to be durable and reusable; an important dual purpose in this age of global warming.


Entry filed under: What's For LUNCH. Tags: , , , , .

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