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School lunch: It doesn’t have to be a sandwich

By Megan Jones

Somehow summer has yet again flown by and it’s August, meaning time to get back into school mode. Packing your child’s lunch for school can be a daunting process especially if your child is picky, or not the biggest fan of healthy foods.

But, the word healthy doesn’t have to have the negative connotation that it still holds in some households, where eating your vegetables is a punishment. Eating well can be fun, easy, and creative even if you are a parent/guardian who doesn’t enjoy cooking or a working parent who doesn’t have much time to spare in the mornings.

Here are some ideas on how to make your young child’s lunch nourishing and something they actually look forward to eating. No one liked it when they opened their lunch box and saw what their mom packed and went “ughh, a ham sandwich and apple Again?!”

First off, I would highly recommend investing in a Bentgo, or one of the many other brands on the market. These things will make your mornings so much smoother. They have portion controlled compartments, and are easy to clean. Not to mention kids love having choices, so being able to pick and choose what to eat next is exciting for them. It’s the little things in life, right?

Some lunch examples:

Always start with a protein

•Turkey(or any protein of choice) and cheese pinrolls

•Peanut butter and banana (or strawberry) roll ups (could add a drizzle of honey or a few chocolate chips inside)

•Baked chicken strips with dipping sauce (ranch, mustard, ketchup, honey)

•Tuna, egg, or chicken salad (made with Greek yogurt) with crackers, pretzels, etc to scoop and eat

•Turkey roll ups with cream cheese spread

A bentgo box has 5 compartments

After filling the largest with the main protein source, you can put fruits, veggies, cheese cubes, applesauce, popcorn, nuts, (if they’re allowed in their classroom) in the others. The choices are endless, but the box makes it easy to compartmentalize accordingly.

In the middle you could put yogurt, ranch, guacamole, hummus, depending on your child’s taste. Sometimes I have seen the middle compartment used for *dessert* such as a handful of m&ms or a Hershey kiss.

You would be amazed at the excitement that a single Hershey kiss can bring a child at the end of lunch time!

Bent Lunch Boxes

You can find bentgo boxes basically anywhere; Target, Amazon, eBay, and Groupon is currently having a deal on them.

If bentgo boxes aren’t your cup of tea, you could always go for some affordable sandwich cutters that add some fun to your kids lunch. Amazon has everything from shapes, animals, trains, and insects.

Cute cut sandwiches

Now who wouldn’t want to eat a pb&j dolphin?! Even adults would!

Establishing good habits at a young age is vital, here’s to fun and wholesome lunches for school year 2016/2017!

About the Author: Preschool teacher Megan Jones is working towards getting a degree in Nutrition. She hopes to attend University of Texas Austin this Winter and earn a Masters in Nutrition.

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