Back to school is in full swing. Amid the flurry of pencils and paper, backpacks filled with homework, parents are struggling to find ways to make healthy lunches for their kids.
And since school lunch is recently under fire, the need for a home lunch is elevated. Growing up I always wanted home brought lunch. My dreams swirled with Snack Pack pudding and Lunchables, but my modest income family opted for school lunch which is a reasonable price for what you get.
Jamie Oliver, a popular cook and TV star, hosted his own show called the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution. The point of one particular episode highlighted the plight of lunch room food. He brought it famous chefs and invited them to a meal. Instead of serving them cuisine which he is famous for, he served them food found in local lunch rooms. The chefs were appalled.
They joined forces with children from a local public school to create meals that were edible and, most importantly, healthy.
My local school district has tried making changes, although less drastic than those of Mr. Oliver. Providing options for healthier meal plans. Although sadly, children are often not choosing those healthier options. But parents who send meals might have an advantage to getting their kids to eat healthier.
Here are some tips for sending your kids with healthy lunches to school:
- If you package the lunch, you can control how healthy it is for your kid. But you should rely heavily on the preferences of your kids. If your child hates salmon, a smoked salmon sandwich will not be a good idea to send in their lunch. Use their input to ensure better consumption results.
- Do not forget the most important thing in a lunch: ice. This crucial component is often overlooked, but not using it can risk you whipping out your family health insurance card in order to make a doctor’s visit for food poisoning. If packing a turkey sandwich, you must keep it at a cooler temperature. Or you could risk sending your precious little offspring to the school nurse. Pack the ice. An easy way? Fill up a water bottle and freeze it. By the time the lunch rolls around, it will be melted enough to drink, but it will have kept the lunch nice and cold.
- Establish good habits with lunch. Parents want their children to eat healthier but often times do not follow that same rule. If you want your kids to eat healthy when they are away from the constant nagging to finish their vegetables, you need to establish those habits long before they hit that lunch room floor. The best way? Start young and lead by example. That way you will not be a hypocrite and your kids will have lifelong habits to fall back on when tempted not to finish his or her celery sticks.
School lunches are not something to be scared of. If you do not like what your school is serving, consider packing your own with the input of your child.