Because children develop at a very rapid rate, it is important that they establish healthy eating habits at a young age. Children's diets are made up of what is eaten at home, what they eat at school, and the food inside their lunchbox. Parents can make sure their kids meals are healthy by preparing or monitoring what they eat in these settings.
The experience of choosing and buying the perfect lunch box for the first day of school is fun, but it can quickly turn into a worrisome task for parents who have to fill that lunch box with healthy meals every day. Here are some practical ideas that will help parents with this task:
- Prepare a weekly meal choice and corresponding shopping list ahead of time. Try to get your children to help you in this process.
- Keep in mind, packing food for a lunch box is very similar to preparing food for a camping trip or other family outing.
- Integrate choices from all food groups. Include whole grain products (bread, crackers, corn or flour tortillas, bagels, or pasta), milk and dairy (different types of cheese or yogurt), a protein source (ham, turkey or chicken sausage, eggs, legumes/beans, soy products), and vegetables and fruits.
- With all of these food options, you can prepare a great variety of sandwiches, fresh vegetable salads, and ready-made salads (made with pasta, rice, vegetables, beans or tuna). These can constitute the “main dish” for each day, complemented with milk, juice, or fruit.
- Keep portion sizes appropriate for your child's age. The lunch box is a vital part of their learning process. It helps kids establish healthy eating habits.
- Take special care when packing different food items. Make sure they are preserved properly and don't spill in the lunch box or when eating.
- Include the appropriate cutlery and some paper napkins.
Finally, don’t forget that we have the great responsibility of overseeing the quality of food that is served to our children at school. Be sure to stay aware of what your school's food service is providing for your children. You can also participate in parent-teacher groups, which will give you the opportunity to express any opinions or ideas you have about the food the school offers.
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