Healthy Out-of-the-lunch-box Ideas for Kids

Shanthi Appelo
Shanthi Appelo

| 3 min read

Another summer has flown by and it’s time for kids to go back to school. It’s no secret that well-fed children perform their best in school, but what does that mean when it comes to school lunch? Different food groups provide important nutrients to fuel a child’s day of learning and playing:
Grains. Eating whole grains provides children with essential B vitamins, minerals, and fiber that keep them feeling satiated for longer periods, enabling them to stay focused and alert in school.
Vegetables. Offering a range of vegetables can aid children in obtaining the essential nutrients and fiber necessary for optimal health.
Fruits. Just like vegetables, fruits offer a variety of essential vitamins and minerals that are crucial for children’s growth and development. Opting for whole fruits instead of fruit snacks or juices is ideal since they contain fiber.
Milk or milk alternative. It's important for children and teenagers to consume milk as it contains vital nutrients such as calcium, protein and vitamin D that promote strong bones, teeth and muscles.
Protein. Foods like meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds contain essential nutrients such as protein and iron that are necessary for the growth and development of a child's body.
It's crucial to incorporate at least three out of the five food groups in your child's lunch, though including more is always better. When uncertain, pairing your child's meal with a glass of milk and a serving of fruit is a great option.
Here are three school lunch ideas that cover all the necessary bases:
Start your child's lunchbox makeover by introducing protein-packed and flavorful chicken meatballs. These bite-sized marvels are not only a great source of lean protein but they’re also versatile enough to pair with a range of grains and veggies. The meatballs make the meal perfect for any age group as the number of meatballs can be easily adjusted based the on child’s needs. Complete the meal with a side of fresh fruit, like apple slices or berries.
This Tex-Mex dish is packed with plant-based protein from black beans. The whole wheat tortillas add fiber, which is great for digestion and helps you feel full. To complete the meal, serve it with pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, and a dollop of Greek yogurt. It's a delicious and nutritious option.
Salmon is abundant in omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for brain health. Transform this nutritional powerhouse into a delightful school lunch option by creating baked rice cups. Easy to put together, the salmon is quickly marinated then placed on a bed of rice and nori in muffin tins, then tossed in the oven for 10 minutes. Enjoy with a sliced cucumber salad and ginger vinaigrette. Don’t forget a side of fruit and a glass of milk to incorporate all food groups.
Photo credit: Getty Images/BCBSM

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