Back to School Nutrition Part 3: Top 10 Strategies for Healthy, Kid Friendly Brown Bag Lunches

Top 10 Strategies for healthy kid friendly brown bag lunches:

    • Plan the upcoming week of lunches together. Consider their likes and dislikes by having them write a list of foods for the month that they would like in their lunches and foods that they do not want. Encourage your child to pick a new food to try regularly. When a child has a vested interest in anything, including lunch planning, it is more likely to be a success.
    • Include a variety of their favorite choices of whole grains, proteins, fresh fruits or vegetables and a beverage, ideally milk or water. Make foods fun such as creating small kabobs from fruit, meat and cheese. To increase appeal there should be a variety of colors, textures and flavors. All crunchy foods at once can take too long for a child to eat or too difficult to eat for a young child who has lost a baby tooth. A small treat can be included now and again.
    • Pass along a note saying something positive like “We are proud of your hard work!” can make a child’s day. This can be written on a napkin or even the outside of a banana peel. Additional fun items to make your child’s day include a sticker, a baseball trading card or a joke. Food themed kid jokes are always appropriate.

  • Spin peer pressure into something positive by packing extra of a new healthy food for their friends such as celery pieces spread with almond butter. Be aware of any allergies of peers first.
  • Use cool lunch equipment that your child picks out. Include an insulated container for chilled pasta salads or hot soup on a cold day.
  • Keep the pantry, refrigerator and freezer stocked. The pantry and refrigerator should have all the basic food staples and items that a child has picked for their lunches. The freezer comes in handy for pre-packing and freezing single servings of foods like chicken, peanut butter, bread, cream cheese, chili, soups. Foods that don’t freeze well are usually high in water content or foods like cottage cheese, raw vegetables and mayonnaise.
  • Pack lunches the night before, during dinner clean up is a great time. Mornings can be stressful with getting ready and preparing breakfast so having lunches already packed can make for an easier morning.
  • Make foods on the weekend such as trail mixes, soups and chicken breasts baked in the oven that can be sliced and used as a healthier lunch meat for sandwiches.
  • Check with your child daily by casually asking what they liked and didn’t like in their lunch. You can learn important information such as if they are getting too little or too much to eat in their lunches, keeping you in tune with your child’s preferences.
  • Be aware that kid’s portion sizes are about half the size as an adult portion. Large sizes may overwhelm a child, not allow them enough time to eat as they spend a significant portion of a short lunch period finding a seat and socializing.