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Krisha

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Maria

Lunch Box Stars - Part 1

by Maria on August 31, 2010 

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It’s back to school time again. And with back to school begins another year of school lunches. But before you resort to your usual stand by’s—perhaps peanut butter and jelly or ham and cheese—read on for some new inspiration.

Step 1. Choose your packaging

While what’s inside is the most important, these days we know that the packaging is also important. Reusable containers are not only eco-friendly, they look snazzy too. And an added bonus: they help keep our portions in check.

The new bento box containers by Laptop Lunches are excellent and can be used in the Laptop Lunch lunch boxes or any other lunch box. My kids love the colorful Crocodile Creek lunch boxes, every year they get to pick out a new design to call their own. Of course, food can be packed into any type of BPA-free reusable container, just make sure it seals well and is easy for little fingers to open. Also be sure to choose BPA-free plastic or aluminum containers for the drinks. To keep drinks such as milk extra cold choose an insulated container and consider adding an ice cube. 
 

Step 2. Plan ahead for balanced nutrition

Before you start filling up your new containers, make a plan so that you end up with a nutritionally balanced meal.  Every meal should have the following components:

1 – Starchy carbohydrates (preferably whole grain)

2 – Proteins

3 – Vegetables

4 – Fruits

(See food guide at the end of this blog for healthy ideas for each of these categories.)

You may want to throw a sweet in there too, depending on how long your child is at school and how many calories he or she needs. I often skip the sweet because my kids are still in preschool and come home after they eat lunch, leaving plenty of time for us to have some afternoon milk and cookies.

Before you do your grocery shopping each week plan a week’s worth of balanced lunches. To make it easier, plan on using leftovers for the entrée one day a week, and, if your child is old enough, letting them buy their lunch one day a week.

Step 3. Fill those containers!

Choose from the categories below to create a healthful meal for your little one. Get your child involved with packing their lunch, for preschool kids this may mean asking if they want carrots or cucumbers for their vegetable. Older kids should have more input in what goes into their lunchbox—and more involvement with actually packing it too!

And now, for some ideas to get you on your way to packing tasty and nutritious lunches… More lunchbox ideas to come in part 2 of this blog!

6 Tasty Lunch Box Sandwich Combinations:

 1. Almond butter and jam fruit spread on whole wheat, use cookie cutter to create fun shapes such as stars and hearts

    Unsweetened apple sauce

    Cucumber slices

    Whole grain goldfish

    Low-fat milk

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2. Peanut butter and crackers (homemade, so that you can choose your crackers and cut the preservatives)

    Diced pineapple

    Steamed snap peas

    Yogurt

 

3. Smoked turkey, cream cheese, and chives on flatbread, rolled and cut into pinwheels

    Raspberries and grapes

    Bell pepper slices

    Mini chocolate chip cookies

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4. Egg salad on wheat and white bread, cut into triangles

    Diced honeydew melon

    Carrot sticks

    Whole grain pretzels

 

5. Whole wheat pita bread, cut into triangles

    Bell pepper slices and carrot sticks

    Hummus

    Grapes

    Yogurt

 

6. Avocado, shredded carrot, baby spinach, walnuts (optional), and feta cheese on a wrap

    Cherry tomatoes

    Oatmeal cookies

    Low-fat milk

 

Food Guide

Here are some examples of good food choices for each of the different nutritional categories.

 

Starchy Carbohydrates

Whole grain bread

Whole grain wraps

Tortillas

Whole grain crackers

Whole grain pretzels

Whole grain goldfish

Pasta

Brown rice

Whole wheat couscous

Whole grain cereal

Granola

Granola bars (minimal sugar)

Popcorn

 

Proteins

Milk

Yogurt

Cheese

Egg

Lean ham

Turkey

Tofu

Beans

Lentils

Nuts

Nut butters

Seeds

Hummus

 

Fruits

Melon, cut into bite-sized chunks

Pineapple, cut into bite-sized chunks

Grapes, halved or quartered for little ones

Raspberries

Blueberries

Strawberries, whole or sliced

Raisins

Cranberries

Bananas

Applesauce

Kiwi

Oranges, cut into chunks

Clementines

Plums

Peaches

Nectarines

 

Vegetables

Carrot sticks

Cucumber slices

Bell pepper slices

Celery sticks

Snap peas (steamed or blanched)

Broccoli (steamed pr blanched)

Peas

Salad

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