Fit Family: How to Pack Healthy Lunches for the New School Year

by Mike Levinson

healthy kids lunchesMoms tell me one of their least favorite things about August is the thought of 10 long months of figuring out what to pack for lunch every day. My first piece of advice is getting the kids involved significantly ups the odds that they’ll eat what you send. Brainstorm some options together before school starts, then map out some healthier meal options.
Tip: School cafeteria offerings are getting better and healthier all the time. (In other words, maybe you can give up packing for good!)
Here are some basic tips to help your kids start eating healthier at lunchtime:
  • sandwiches: Choose a whole-grain bread, which will be digested more slowly than the processed white variety, helping blood sugar stay stable over the course of the afternoon. Try whole-wheat wraps, bagels or sandwich rounds to mix things up. Multigrain or whole-corn tortillas are also fun options (we like La Tortilla Factory).
  • tortilla wraps with shredded cheese, chopped chicken, and cut vegetables
  • egg salad, whole-wheat bagel, and fruit
  • whole-grain roll with butter or margarine, 2 hard boiled eggs and carrot sticks
  • 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt, whole-wheat crackers and fruit
  • 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter, whole-grain crackers or bagel and fruit or vegetables
  • 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese or hummus, whole-grain crackers, and cherry tomatoes
  • bean-based soup or stew in a Thermos, whole-grain roll with butter or margarine and dried fruit
  • 1-2 slices leftover thin crust cheese pizza and fruit or vegetables
Bottom line? Make sure you have healthy fare on hand for your child to choose for lunches and snacks like:
  • whole-grain breads or crackers
  • peanut and almond butters
  • light canned tuna fish
  • raw vegetables that can be cut into slices
  • fruits

Mike Levinson, a Calabasas resident, is a former amateur bodybuilding champion and registered dietitian who holds dual degrees in sports nutrition and physical education. He has worked extensively as a nutritionist with the California Angels baseball team and with famous athletes such as Charles Oakley, JT Snow and Sean Rooks. He also worked as a nutritionist for the Chicago Bears and the Oakland Raiders. 


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