Can you believe it is August? A new school year is around the corner. Soon we will be kissing our summer goodbye. It is bitter sweet. Children will be back to a regular schedule, as will the parents. Children will bemoan their early bedtimes. Parents will be scrambling for dinner and school lunch ideas. If you pack a lunch for your child or children, you know all to well it can be a struggle as to what to include. As a mother of two, it is a challenge to keep your child’s palate pleased. I feel as though I am constantly reinventing the wheel. Therefore, I wanted to share a menu of school lunch ideas with you.

First and foremost a healthy lunch is essential. A nutritional lunch will sustain your child’s energy level and brain activity. Any meal with too much of one thing is never good. It does not allow for a well-balanced meal. A school lunch high in sugar and/or carbohydrates is sure to slow your child down. Your child may soar high from the sugar or high carb count but will eventually crash. Too much sugar or carbs will likely leave your child feeling lethargic, unmotivated, distracted, and possibly irritable. A well-balanced lunch should include a protein, vegetable, fruit, and carbohydrate. The big question, how do I keep my child’s interest? If you struggle getting your child to enjoy fruits and vegetables you may want to try cutting them into fun shapes. Children find eating their food that looks like a character (Mickey Mouse) entertaining. Plus, it is a good conversation piece with your child. You can reiterate how much fun it is to eat healthy foods and share with them the nutritional benefits.

Before introducing a new food to your child might I suggest he/she try it at home for the first time. Then you will know your child did not go hungry at school. I highly encourage you continue in sharing new foods with your child.

~Lunch Box Ideas~

Protein: My children LOVE hard-boiled eggs! Deviled eggs, egg salad, chicken or tuna salad (add cranberries, sliced grapes, crushed walnuts). Sliced/or rolled meat of your choice. If you pack a sandwich… add lettuce and tomato. Spaghetti & meatballs, turkey meatloaf with gravy, or anything healthy you have leftover from the previous nights dinner.

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Vegetables: baby carrots, cucumber slices/sticks, celery with peanut butter, yellow/green squash slices, avocado slices/cubes, tomato & cucumber salad with ciliegine mozzarella cheese, green salad (spinach, romaine, endive, butter or iceberg lettuce). Try serving all veggies raw. Add extra flavor with a dressing of their choice.

Fruits: Strawberries, any melon, blueberries, nectarine, peaches, banana, sliced apples, oranges, plums, or whatever else your child’s heart desires. Suggestion: Make a fruit salad. You may want to add yogurt to the fruit.

The carbohydrates will come from the bread, pasta, rice cake, or tortilla you use. Plus, your fruits and veggies also include carbohydrates. Pack water instead of a boxed juice.

To eliminate stressful lunch packing, grocery shop before the school week begins, plan a menu, and prepare lunch the night before. Utilizing these few helpful hints is sure to get you and your child prepared for a healthy school year.

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