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How to Pack a Healthy Lunch for Kids

Updated: May 1, 2020



Lunch for kids is hard, actually lunch is hard for us adults sometimes too! But, it doesn’t have to be!


I grew up on sandwiches for lunch, daily. Sandwiches are easy, filling, and pb&j’s are delicious, but it does get old day after day. Also, there are so many other fun and more nutritious options out there. If you are wanting to get creative with your options, and want your kids to venture out and try new, healthier foods for lunch, this is the post for you!


Lunch is such an important meal for kids. We want them to be able to learn and grow well and have the energy to be able to do it. When kids are hungry, or nutrient deprived (from the overconsumption of processed foods) they will have a harder time concentrating, learning, and behaving well.


When I plan lunches for my kids, I think about a couple of things. Macronutrient ratios and in season produce. Macronutrient ratios are important for keeping blood sugar and energy levels stable. Macronutrients are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates and we need all three to have a balanced meal. This can sound complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. According to Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, aim to have ½-¾ of their plate (or lunch box) fruits and vegetables (The Paleo Mom, 2012). This list is not comprehensive, but it will give you a good idea of what these different macronutrients are.


Protein

Meat

Beans

Nuts

Seeds

Eggs



Carbohydrates

Fruit

Vegetables

Whole grains

Sugars


Fats

Cheese

Avocado

Olive oil

Coconut oil

Walnuts


In season produce is important for a couple of reasons. It’s important for our gut health to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Eating seasonally, and a variety of colors is also a great way to ensure that our kids are getting all of the essential vitamins and minerals that they need in order to function at their best!


Also, if we are eating the same fruit day after day, it gets old...the kids will get sick of it and stop eating it. But...if we are changing it up with the seasons, they never get bored, and may even anticipate when oranges or strawberries are back in season!


So, when I pack a lunch, first I pick the protein. Good quality lunch meat, hard boiled eggs, beans and taco meat from the night before, or full-fat yogurt with granola on top. Next, I pick the carbohydrates, which are mostly fruits and veggies, maybe some crackers (whole grain and as few ingredients as possible). I try to make at least half of the meal fruits and vegetables, and choose in-season, colorful produce that the kids are excited about. Lastly, I make sure there is fat in the meal, we NEED fat for fuel, for our hormones, and for our body to function properly. And, according to Dr. Enig (Weston A. Price, 2001), kids need a variety of fats including monounsaturated, saturated, and a proper balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. This can come from good quality cheese, olive oil vinaigrette (for a side salad), avocado slices or guacamole, olives, walnuts, or other higher fat content nuts.


That’s it! Compile it all together, and you have a balanced, nutritious lunch for your little ones. A meal that will not only keep their tummies full, but will nourish their bodies as well, setting the stage for growth and learning!



References:

The Paleo Mom. (2012). Blog Post. Retrieved from https://www.thepaleomom.com/carbohydrate-recommendations-for-kids/

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