It’s hard to believe another summer is ending. Pools days, vacation, and camps are over and time for the activities of the fall to begin: picking out clothes, working out the daily schedules, and, of course, deciding which days your kids will buy lunch from the school cafeteria and which days they will pack their lunch.
As a dad packing lunch, I am always thinking about new foods my kids will eat. As a Registered Dietitian, I want to pack foods that will provide the nutrients they need to keep their mind and body active and energized. Below are some lunch box swaps that both the dad and dietitian in me can feel good about.
- Skip packaged sweets and make buttermilk banana muffins. They taste great and provide healthy omega-3’s that we all need more of in our diets. Another nutrient packed powerhouse muffin you can try are blueberry buttermilk muffins. These muffins have Greek yogurt and are chock-full of protein, fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, as well as the antioxidant power of blueberries!
- Swap crunchy chips with crunchy veggies. Cut up carrots, cucumbers or other vegetables and pair with creamy avocado hummus. This provides the crunch kids crave and the nutrients you are looking for!
- Fill up on fresh fruit. Skip the fruit gummies and pack fresh fruit for more nutrition and filling fiber. My kids love apple slices with peanut butter whip and I love including it because I know it tastes great and provides the nutrients they need to keep them reading, doing math and science and participating in PE and recess!
- Rethink their Drink– Skip the sugary juice drinks and pack white or chocolate milk, or send milk money for kids to purchase milk from the cafeteria. Nine out of ten girls and seven out of ten boys aren’t getting the calcium they need for strong bones and healthy bodies. Flavored milk provides more nutrition (think calcium, vitamin D, protein) than juices and sports drinks.
If packing lunch is too much to take on, don’t forget school lunch is a nutritious option that is both appealing and affordable. Studies show that students who participate in the school meal program consume more milk, fruits and vegetables during mealtimes and get more vitamins and minerals, like calcium and fiber.
Paul Moore (Dietitian Dad) is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and father of 3 who believes in a family-centered approach to feeding children and learning how to develop a positive relationship with food! Connect with Paul on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @DietitianDad, where food, family, and future is the focus!