How to get an A in packing school lunches

August 31, 2017

School is back in session and that means the four Rs: Reading, wRiting, aRithmetic and eating Right. To help your kids continue to eat healthy while at school, we asked SIU School of Medicine registered dietitian Cheryl Burns some common questions parents have about packing their kids’ lunches.  

How do I prep a lunch for a picky eater? 
Involve your child in the choices.  Have your kids pick the fruit and vegetables for lunches while at the grocery store, then when packing the meal, offer a couple choices. This lets them have some control of the meal.  Try to include one item they like when you’re adding a new item for them to try.

How can I get my kids involved in packing?
In addition to picking out some of their meal, kids can wash fresh fruit or make a sandwich by adding the ingredients between the slices of bread.

Can certain foods boost my child’s energy or performance during the school day?
A healthy protein food, like meat or dairy products, will boost brainpower and make kids more alert in school. Some examples are turkey, chicken, cheese, milk, pudding and yogurt. Fruits and vegetables also help with immunity.

What types of drinks are best to pack?
Read the drink’s label to look for added sugars in drinks that can easily go over the daily recommendation of no more than 3-4 teaspoons (12-16 grams) per day. This amount doesn’t include natural sugars like those found in fruit and milk. 

Do you have any tips for packing the lunch bag?
Use an insulated lunch bag or lunch box to be sure that perishable foods will stay cold. Include a small frozen cold pack. A frozen pouch or box of juice will keep food cold too.