Day 2 of 7 Days of Healthy Meal Planning for Children
By Dr. Robin Russell
Lunch: Lunch is another area that you can make a huge difference in your child’s health. Lunch provides them with the nutrition to get them through the rest of their school day. Think about the nutritional requirements for your child’s learning, energy, social and emotional needs. These requirements should be met with ...lots of protein rich foods, fruits/vegetables and whole grains. When asked, most parents in my practice report to me that their kids eat food that’s provided at daycare or hot lunch at school. This is totally fine once in a while but I encourage you to make a conscious effort to start packing lunches regularly. Lunches at school are no match to the healthy, organic, free-range whole foods you can provide your children from home. After all, you are doing such a wonderful job with healthy meals at home, it just makes sense to provide them with healthy meals while they are in school.
Parent’s biggest complaint about providing lunch for their children is lack of time. No one knows this better than your child’s doctor who also happens to be a mom. For the 15 minutes that it takes me to make the lunch, it’s so worth it. After years of preparing lunches and snacks for my kids’ daycare/school I have found that preparing lunches the night before right after dinner clean-up is the best time. I usually pack leftovers from the night before but if there are none, I will try and make them something healthy yet delicious. If you’ve read my previous blog on Breakfast, you’ll know that I like to focus on protein and the vegetable/fruit for meals for many different reasons. Here are some lunches that you might want to consider packing for your loved ones:
Cold Grilled OR Rotisserie chicken (This can be purchased at some deli counters OR made on Sunday - cut up into chunks and bag up into kid size portions and freeze but take out the night before) with carrot sticks and ranch dressing and apple slices (tossed in fresh lemon juice to preserve)
Sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwich on whole grain bread (I never send peanut products to my children’s schools for fear of students with peanut allergies) and fresh sugar snap peas
Hard boiled eggs with sliced cheese OR string cheese and sunflower seeds and dried fruits like cranberries, apricots or mango
Nitrite-Free Deli Ham and cream cheese rolls with cucumber spears and fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
Kid’s Antipasta (Cubes of Nitrite-Free turkey/ham, cubes of cheese, olives, marinated artichokes, marinated mushrooms) and fresh orange slices
HOT LUNCHES (If lunch can be heated up) – these are usually leftovers from dinner but here’s a few suggestions if there are none:
Nitrite-Free hot dogs (Chicken, Turkey, Beef, Pork or Soy) sliced up and mixed in baked beans with watermelon or cantaloupe
Kid’s Taco Salad – this meal is more kid friendly when the ingredients are portioned in separate containers giving them the independence to create their own salad (Ground meat – chicken, turkey or beef sautéed in taco seasoning, shredded cheese, mild salsa or pico de gallo, avocado chunks, shredded lettuce) and mango or papaya
Burgers (Veggie, chicken, turkey or beef) with fixin’s (organic ketchup, lettuce, tomato, pickles) with raw carrot sticks and sliced pears
Bean and cheese burrito (My kids like Amy’s frozen burrito’s) with pineapple
Black beans and brown rice (you can keep it really simple and use canned beans) with sliced sweet peppers and ranch dip and sliced peaches
Lunch Beverage Ideas:
Milk OR Alternative Milks (Hemp, Oat, Coconut, Almond, Rice, Soy)
NOTE: I want to add here that I keep fruit juices to a bare minimum in my home. My kids get fruit juice as a treat when we go out for dinner. If I have it in the house, it’s maybe a couple servings/week. I rather my kids eat whole fruits and get the added benefits of fiber.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Dinner blog with Dr. Robin Russell
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