Start the School Year Off Right with Healthier Lunches

healthy lunches kidsBack-to-school is a time to start fresh—and that includes rethinking kids’ lunchtime routines. With childhood obesity affecting nearly one in five children in the U.S., you may be concerned about keeping your kids at a healthy weight. Or maybe you’d like to save a little money (who wouldn’t?).

Packing school lunches is a great way to accomplish these goals! As you’re filling their school lunch sacks, aim for veggies and fruits to make up half of the meal. For the rest, use whole grains and lean protein such as poultry, fish, lean beef, eggs, nuts, beans, or tofu.

Try Something New
Try these tasty treats and tricks in your child’s lunch:

  • Tweak kids’ favorites. Instead of using white bread, try English muffins, tortillas, bread, or bagels made from whole grains. Get creative with the fillings, too. Swap out sugary jelly in a PB&J sandwich and replace it with apple slices, banana slices, or raisins.
  • Skip the salty snacks. A handful of a fruity trail mix (made of unsalted nuts and dried fruits) is a great substitute for potato chips, pretzels, and other salty snacks.
  • Think small. Cheese, rotisserie chicken, melons, and veggies are easier to eat if you slice them into cubes or chunks. Your child won’t need to worry about cutting things up at the lunch table and will have plenty of time to enjoy these healthy foods.
  • Try tasty dips. Instead of salad dressings and ketchup, spice up a sack lunch with salsa. Hummus is another tasty partner to apple slices, whole-grain crackers, cubed foods, and other healthy treats.
  • Be imaginative. Want to make lunch feel interesting, fun, and full of love? Try using art supplies, cookie cutters (to make square sandwiches into fun shapes), cloth napkins, a note from you, and stickers.

Give Good Health a Shot
New backpack, lunchbox, binders, pens, paper … here’s one more item to add to the back-to-school list: a flu vaccine. Ask your primary care provider if your child should get the nasal spray or shot. Looking for a new PCP? Use our Find a Doctor feature to choose one that’s best for you and your family.