Cool Back-to-School Lunches
Although most bag lunches come in a plain, brown wrapper, there's
no reason the contents need to be as boring as the container. By
using your creative, lunch-packing skills, you can design tasty,
well-balanced fare that your kids will eat, says Better Homes and
Gardens magazine. In the process, they might discover that good
nutrition and good food can go together.
The Pyramid is the place to start, the Food Guide Pyramid for
Kids designed by the US Department of Agriculture, which tells
you the food groups and portions necessary for reaching sound
nutrition goals. Start from the bottom up, building a strong
foundation with one or more foods from the first three levels of
the Pyramid--grains; fruits and vegetables; and meats, beans, and
Let your kids be junior lunch-packing chefs. Give them several
options to choose from the food groups. Don't worry if they
don't eat everything all the time. Every child has likes and
dislikes. If they get stuck on a certain food or food
combination, it's likely just a passing fixation--continue to
encourage new or different foods.
Don't forget to pack food carefully to avoid spoilage--insulated
lunch boxes work best. If refrigeration isn't available, avoid
easily-spoiled foods such as poultry, soft fruit or products
Level 1 - Grains and grain products form the bottom level of the
Pyramid for essential B-vitamins, iron, and zinc. We're talking
from standard bread slices to bagels, crackers, muffins, pasta
salads, or tortillas--one serving or more. Try to encourage
whole grain breads. White bread still isn't bad since it's
fortified with iron and other nutrients.
Level 2 - Next are vegetables and fruits, one or two servings of
which will provide essential vitamins and minerals. Veggie
selections might include cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, and
baby carrot sticks, to name a few. You can sneak veggies into
sandwich fillings by chopping and mixing them in. If whole fruit
such as apples or oranges don't slice it, try fruit roll-ups or
juices which also qualify.
Level 3 - Meats, beans and dairy provide protein, calcium and
other important minerals. Kids need three servings of calcium-
rich foods such as milk, yogurt or cheese to meet
daily needs. There are plenty of choices here. To top off the
foundation, add a 2-ounce serving of meat, poultry, fish, cheese,
yogurt, peanut butter, nuts or beans.
Level 4 - This is where kids usually need no encouragement--
sweets and fats including jams, jellies, candy, soda pop,
margarine, mayonnaise and the like. Don't worry about avoiding
fats and sweets. Eaten in moderation, they add extra appeal and
necessary calories. First try fruit-filled cookies, oatmeal
cookies, or granola bars but don't deny their favorite sweets or
snacks in reward for eating well. Chips are okay but multi-grain
chips or pretzels are better.