By Lori Thacker, RDN

  1. kids eating healthy lunchInvolve your children in the process. Give your child a choice between two or three fruits and raw vegetables. Let them wash and trim and take part of the preparation. What child doesn’t like to spread nut butter or mayo on a sandwich? They are more likely to eat what they have taken part in creating.
  2. Think outside of the (sandwich) box! Sandwiches are great, but for variety; change up the main dish with some other kid friendly options:
    • Salads with added meat or beans, cheese (goat, cheddar, whichever they like) and whole grain crackers, nut butter with fruit, hummus and pita slices, refried beans and tortilla chips, cottage cheese or Greek yogurt and fruit, tortilla wraps with meat or tofu and veggies, tofu chunks and snap peas sprinkled with a little soy sauce and sesame oil, or boiled eggs.
    • For different sandwich ideas, try avocado, cheese and tomato, mashed beans or lentils with mayo, sunflower seed butter and honey (and sliced bananas or apples), turkey and cranberry sauce, egg, tuna or chicken salad with shredded carrots.
  3. Leftovers!  Did your child love the pasta dish you made last night and devour the whole bowl? Send her to school with a container full. Children usually enjoy cold pasta, rice and and grain dishes, chicken legs, and salads. Don’t forget to pack a fork!
  4. Squeeze in a veggie. It’s tough getting some kids to eat vegetables, but don’t give up! Even if they don’t eat it, be persistent.  Try these: A whole carrot (vs. baby carrots), cucumber or zucchini sticks, frozen peas or corn, broccoli or cauliflower flourettes (hummus for dipping?), celery and nut butter, radishes, cherry tomatoes, edamame pods. Add romaine lettuce or spinach, avocado, and tomato slices to sandwiches, or pack a side salad.
  5. Test run different foods. During summer break or on weekends, serve your child different healthy foods you can easily pack in their lunch. This may be nutrition bars, nuts, fruit, raw vegetables and different types of sandwiches.  Ask your child how they like them and take note of how much they ate. Pack the foods that have passed the test.

And don’t forget to keep food cool with an ice pack and provide your child with a bottle of water.

Lunch may become their favorite meal of the day!