Remember when you were in school and you knew you had something really good in your lunchbox? How you counted the minutes until lunch period? What about those days when your parents packed something you didn't like, and your choices were to try to trade with someone, eat it anyway, or throw it away and go hungry? Well, mom and dad, things have not changed since those days and your kids feel exactly the same way!
As a parent, how do you pack a lunch that satisfies both you and your child? You want it to be healthy, they want it to be fun and full of things they like. Oh, and don't forget the "coolness" factor. Your child wants a lunch that the other kids wish they had (Remember those days?). So how do you do it? Here are some ideas:
Don't go to extremes when trying to get your child to eat a nutritious lunch. If your child won't eat beans sprouts and tofu on whole-wheat pita at home, what makes you think they'll eat it at school? I promise you that tofu sandwich is destined to be traded or thrown away and your child will be no better for having brought it! Remember that a peanut butter and jelly on whole-grain bread is better than processed lunchmeat and "cheese food" on white bread any day! Know what your child is eating by packing something they like, but that is as healthy as possible.
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Keep nutritionally-appropriate portions in mind for grade-school children. Guidelines suggest they need 2-3 oz. of meat or cheese; 1-2 slices of bread or 1/2 cup of grain or rice; two servings of fruits or veggies; 1 cup of milk or 4 oz. of a dairy product like yogurt.
Kids love to know their parents support and appreciate them. Don't forget to slip in a note every now and then... they may even remember this little gesture for the rest of their lives.
Don't let packing school lunches stress you out. Packing healthy lunches your kids will love is easy if you get them involved. Try letting them choose their lunchbox and help with the planning and preparation. Strive to make lunches nutritious, but keep your child's likes and dislikes in mind. You will also want to keep food safety in mind and be certain you use something to keep food cold. With these tips and ideas in mind, we know you will have fun planning and packing school lunches with your child!
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