By Kathy Fang
When I plan out what I want to pack for my daughter’s lunch for the week, I always think about a balanced meal. For growing kids, a healthy meal means providing all the essential nutrients they need to develop both physically and mentally.
Tips to Planning a Healthy Packed Lunch
- That means they should be having a starch, protein, vegetable and a little fruit. To make parenting easier, I like to rotate between 3 starches, rice, pasta and bread. Keeping it simple and less stressful as we aren’t all master chefs in the kitchen.
- As far as protein goes, you can get creative but honestly sticking to proteins your kids will eat is key. I’ve learned that my 3 years old daughter only likes chicken, fish, shrimp, ground beef, and ham. That means I’ll rotate between these proteins every day and pair it with the 3 starches I listed above.
- Vegetables are probably the trickiest with kids. I’ve never met a kid who loved all vegetables. How you prepare them also matters a lot, so again keeping it simple and tasty is key. Vegetables that I’ve found to be fantastic for packed lunches have been, corn off the cob, edamame beans, raw cucumbers, carrots, celery, cold blanched crunchy broccoli, and basic green salad with dressing on the side. These vegetables go great with dressings or dips that your kid can pair it with and taste delicious when enjoyed cold.
- Lastly I like to add a little fruit to the meal if their midday snack doesn’t include fruit. I like to stick dairy (yogurt or milk into their breakfast routine) and lastly cheese into their snack routine (crackers, cheese, fruit etc).
6 Packed Lunch Ideas for Every Kid Healthy Week
Now that you have the basic foundation of what makes a healthy packed lunch, below are some ideas of packed lunch I’ve made in the past that you can try your hand at.
I LOVE making bolognase for my family. It’s the BEST way to sneak in a ton of vegetables your kids may not like. I like adding, chopped kale, carrots, celery, chopped spinach, mushrooms, and squash into my meat sauce. Upon finishing my sauce, I add a homemade bechamel sauce (roux plus whole milk) along with parmesan or feta to amp up the dairy (calcium). This is why I call this pasta Popeye’s, I literally feel like my kids are going to grow big and strong after eating a plate of my meat sauce tossed with pasta.
I pack my pasta in a thermos so my daughter can enjoy a hot meal for lunch. I remember growing up and watching friends of mine eat cold pasta packed in tupperware. And while that works as well, nothing is more comforting than a hot meal. These days there are so many fun thermos to purchase for kids, it’s a good investment that I promise you will use.
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.