Packing a Nourishing School Lunch
Packing a nourishing lunch is just one of the things parents and caregivers have to worry about as the school year begins. Consuming a nutrient-rich lunch will keep your child energized and ready to learn, as well as support their immune system and minimize their risk for childhood obesity. Here are some tips for packing a lunch that is easy, affordable, kid-friendly and nourishing.
- Practice at home – Children develop eating habits at a young age so it’s vital to practice healthy eating at home. Kid’s will mirror their parents so establish meal routines, discuss why nourishing food is important and practice what you preach. If your family’s eating habits can use a bit of improvement, start small. Make sure to include a colorful vegetable and or fruit at each meal for example, and offer healthful snack choices such as apples and nut butter, low fat popcorn, or tortilla chips and bean dip. Establishing healthy eating habits at home will help your kids accept and opt for nourishing food options in their lunch and away from home.
- Get the kids involved – Spend time as a family creating a list of foods that your children enjoy. Kids tend to accept foods better if they have participated in the choices and/or preparation. At the supermarket ask them to pick out a couple of fruits and veggies to include in their lunch or have them help you prepare some of our Michigan Bean recipes below. Instruct them on what types of food groups need to be included in their lunch and let them choose from the parent-approved items you have in the pantry and refrigerator.
- Include a variety of food groups – A well balanced lunch includes some core food groups that together help ensure a varied and needed nutrient intake. The list below contains several examples from each of these food groups.
- Protein – Sliced turkey or chicken, cheese cubes or string cheese, mixed nuts, beans, hummus, yogurt, lean beef, or hard-boiled eggs.
- Grains – Whole grain bread or crackers, mini bagel, muffins, pita bread, granola or cereal, granola bar, tortilla chips or tortilla.
- Fruits and Veggies – Apple slices, grapes, berries, banana, orange segments, raisins, peach, melon cubes, baby carrots, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, pepper strips, Italian Bean Salad (recipe below) – Michigan Beans count as a protein and a veggie serving!
- And Something Special – Flourless Chocolate & Bean Cookie Bars (recipe below), Harvest Protein Muffins (recipe below), low-fat popcorn, trail mix, 100% juice box, oatmeal raisin cookies, granola bar, cheese crackers.
Including Michigan Beans in your child’s lunch is a great way to add taste, texture and needed nutrients like fiber, protein and potassium. These nourishing, kid-friendly recipes provide the benefits of Michigan Beans to keep your kids energized and able to concentrate during their busy school day.