Monday, September 24, 2012

Jazz Up Your Kid's Lunch

Jennifer Koslo, PhD, RD, CSSD, CPT
FT Faculty, School of Health and Wellness
Health and Wellness/Nutrition

I don’t have children but I know I sure was a handful when it came to my school lunch. I am not joking here but when I was in elementary school I wrote up a one page “brief” with explicit instructions on what my mom could and could not put in my lunch. Here is an excerpt:

1.       Half of a sandwich (and I gave her 2 choices along with an “ *” - see below for key)
2.       Fruit. No more than two piece, and absolutely no bananas! (I have no clue why I didn’t want bananas – maybe because they were too big)
Don’ts                   Do’s
No chips              Cookies (if fresh baked)
No cupcakes      Crackers (if 1 piece of fruit)
No pie
No surprises

*only when you put in two pieces of fruit, other a whole (4/4) sandwich
One roll = one whole (4/4) sandwich

Wow – is it any wonder I became a registered dietitian?

If you are a mom or dad you might be looking for some new resources or tips, so to make up for some of the trials I put my mom through I put together this list:
1.       Food safety first. Perishable food should not be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Be certain your child’s lunch box is well insulated and that you include a freezer pack. You should also be certain that if you use plastic containers they are BPA free.
2.       Steer clear of pre-packaged lunchables. Kids may love them but they are loaded with fat, salt and offer very little nutrition. Why not pack some leftovers from that healthy dinner you prepared last night?
3.       Use “fun foods” like pita bread or whole wheat hot dog rolls for sandwiches.
4.       Beware of allergens in the school environment and opt for hummus instead of peanut butter.
5.       Steer clear of “juice drinks” and include 100% fruit and vegetable juices.
6.       Include a portion of fruit, vegetable, lean protein, dairy or alternative.
7.       Check out this fantastic interactive snack chart from Canada:
It has 170 popular snacks and allows you to quickly check the sugar and fat content.
8.       The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a great resource called Kids Eat Right that has articles, recipes and tons of tips:
9.       WebMD also has a great list of 15 lunch ideas:
10.   And let’s not forget after school snacks. The Food Network has a list of over 50 ideas:

If you have some ideas to share, post them here. Happy lunch packing!


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