How to Build Healthy Brown Bag Lunches for Your Kids

Lunch in a Bag Can Be Healthy Without Being Boring

As hard as it might be for some people to swallow, we’re having an epidemic of obesity in the United States. A lot of the excess poundage Americans are lugging around is a result of overeating, a bad habit that is often developed in childhood. If your child is among the 26 million American children enrolled in the free or reduced rate School Lunch Program, chances are he or she is getting a diet that is high in saturated fat and cholesterol, and short on fiber and nutrient-rich foods; a recipe for obesity in adult life.

One way to ensure that your child gets a healthy lunch, and develops good eating habits for life is to pack a lunch rather than rely on the school cafeteria.

Brown bag lunches don’t have to be boring either. The key to a healthy meal, that is also enjoyable, is variety. While you should avoid sugars and fats and focus on foods that are high in fiber and nutrients to enable your child to make it through the day, you can pack foods that are also tasty and fun to eat.

Here are a few suggestions for packing a lunch that will give your child the necessary nutrients, and make sure it is eaten and doesn’t end up in the cafeteria trash bin in favor of the fast food offerings on the cafeteria line, or worse, the vending machines.

  1. Sandwich (tuna salad, or sliced turkey or chicken, with lettuce, tomato, low-fat mayonnaise, spice mustard), carrot sticks, and low-fat milk.
  2. Pita wrap (ham, turkey, or chicken with salsa, tomatoes and lettuce), two plums or a peach, and lemon drink (the low sugar kind that you stir in water).
  3. The old standby, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on toasted whole wheat bread (low-fat, low sugar crunchy peanut butter and low sugar jelly please), an apple and low-fat milk.

These are just a few of the healthy, appealing lunches you can pack. For variety, try a container of microwaveable vegetable soup (most school cafeterias have a microwave) with salt free crackers and low-fat cheese, or sandwiches made from the leftovers of the night before. You can also add a small plastic bag of trail mix made with nuts and raisins as a special treat. Avoid sugary fruit juices and sodas, encouraging your child to drink low-fat milk instead.

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