Meal Planning: Easy Swaps for a Healthier School Lunch
A key aspect of living healthier is eating healthier, and that can be done in a number of ways. When it comes to meal planning, serve smaller portion sizes, include whole grains, protein and low fat dairy, and fill half of your child’s plate with fruits and vegetables. These tips, if followed every single day, can help kids improve their current eating habits, or make their good eating habits even better. Another way to help your children meet their nutritional requirements is by starting out with simple, healthy swaps. Try choosing whole-grain cereals instead of sugary ones, swap a hot dog for a lean turkey sandwich, snack on carrots and hummus instead of chips and dip, scoop low fat yogurt with fruit into your bowl not ice cream, and choose water instead of soda or other sugary drinks. You can find more healthy swaps and ideas to help children meet nutritional requirements at ShapeYourFutureOK.com.
Quick (and Healthy) School Lunch Ideas
Kids need nutritious foods to help fuel their bodies for every meal. At school, national lunch standards have improved to incorporate healthier cafeteria options, but healthy sack or packed lunches are just as important. Whether it’s hot lunch or cold lunch, every meal should be built with nutrition in mind. Instead of sending kids to school with prepackaged lunch packs from the store, create a healthy lunch pack combo with a portion of fruits, veggies, whole grains, protein and low fat dairy. You can mix and match baked chicken nuggets or turkey slices, apple slices, grapes or carrot and celery sticks with peanut butter, mixed nuts or a hardboiled egg, and a number of other healthy options. Here are two lunch ideas to get you started.
Express Lunch Plate
- 1 large hard-cooked egg
- 1 ounce Cheddar cheese wedge
- 1 apple, cored and sliced
- 3 rye crispbread crackers, such as Wasa or Ryvita
Corner Kick Pita Pocket
- ½ cup spinach, trimmed leaves
- ¼ cup cucumber, peeled and sliced
- ¼ cup carrots, shredded
- 1 tablespoon salsa, mild
- 1 tablespoon fat-free ranch salad dressing
- 1 (6 ½ inch) pita pocket
- 4 oz. extra-lean ground beef (5% fat), cooked
- 1 cup cantaloupe, cubed
- Combine spinach, cucumber, and carrots with salsa and ranch dressing, mix well.
- Cut pita in half. Using your finger, slowly open the pocket so as not to tear the bread.
- Divide beef and veggie mix in half and place in each pocket half.
- Serve each pocket with ½ cup of cantaloupe.
Find these recipes and much more at www.shapeyourfutureok.com.