Are You Packing A Healthful Lunch?

It’s Back To School time and that means packing lunches for our children. What our kids eat is critically important — especially in the middle of the school day, when good nourishment is key to learning. But it’s a tall order to prepare a meal that’s healthy, tastes great hours after you make it, appeals to your children and isn’t bad for the environment. Especially for busy parents on a weekday morning!

We have come up with some ideas that might help! Try these smart, doable steps to pack eco-healthy school lunches for your kids.

Create a supply of healthful recipes that work for your family. Before you can think about what to put into a lunchbox, why not consult the experts? Gather a bunch of healthy, kid popular ideas that you can rely on for those busy weekday mornings. When you have all the ingredients on hand, they are much more likely to end up in the lunchbox. Below are a few books that might be helpful:

Good Food to Go: Healthy Lunches Your Kids Will Love by Brenda Bradshaw & Cheryl Mutch

Brown Bag Success: Making Healthy Lunches Your Kids Won’t Trade by Sandra K. Nissenberg

Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right: The Food Solution That Lets Kids Be Kids by Joanna Dolgoff

Find these choices on Amazon

Not all Meat is Created Equal

Your kids should eat small portions of the healthier, low-impact options. Pack meat-smart lunches. Here are a few suggestions.

Skip processed meats—- sliced lunch meats, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, sausages and the like even though     they are easy options.

Avoid meats treated with antibiotics or hormones (look for “no” on the label or buy organic

Stick to chicken and turkey, they’re low-impact and low-fat

Try alternative proteins such as hummus, nuts and whole grains.

Pack more fruits and vegetables with minimal pesticides

The government’s new “My Plate” nutrition guidelines recommend that half your plate (or lunchbox, in this case!) consist of fruits and vegetables. Pineapple, mango, cantaloupe, watermelon chunks or kiwi slices are great additions to kid-friendly lunches. Sweet corn and frozen peas make for a great hands-on lunch and have the lowest levels of pesticide residues.

Conventional carrots are also lower in pesticides than conventional celery. EWG recommends buying organic whenever possible — especially for kids. Their neurological systems are still developing, and they eat more fruits and vegetables than adults relative to their body weight. Recent studies of organophosphate pesticides used on some fruits and vegetables have found that children with high exposures are at risk of impaired intelligence and neurological problems.

Say No to Surgary Juice Boxes

Instead of sugary juice, soda or bottled water, send your child to school with filtered water or organic, low-fat milk in a stainless steel bottle. You’ll use less plastic and save money

Reduce lunchtime waste

School lunches can generate lots of garbage, like any out-of-the-home meal. Go easier on the local landfill by sending lunch and snacks in reusable packaging and skip single-serve items. Some simple steps to limit your waste:

•    Find non-toxic, reusable containers, like stainless steel lunch boxes. If you choose plastic containers, pick them carefully (plastics marked with a #1, 2, 4 or 5 don’t contain BPA and may be better options.
•    Send tableware from home.
•    Skip the straws — or go reusable if you must.

Here are some examples of ways you can pack a healthy lunch:

Almond butter and jam on whole wheat

Organic sliced carrots

Tortilla chips and fresh tomato salsa

Organic Apple slices

Peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat

Handful of cashews

Organic peach

Tomato soup in a thermos

Small chicken or turkey wrap or sliced cooked chicken

Organic cucumber slices with lime and salt

Organic grapes mixed with carrot slices

Get inspired and learn more at Waste Free Lunches

We want to hear from you! Give us your ideas on what you do to pack a healthful lunch.


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