You send your child off to school for an education, but there's no way your child can be a success
without the proper nutrition. Middle school can be especially demanding on students with an increase in homework, gym class and all the emotional ups and downs.
But a healthy packed lunch can help your child make it through the day, and if you pack a lunch with nutrition mind it's sure to be better than any cafeteria food the school might provide. Below are tips on making your child's lunch a success.
Packing a Healthy Lunch for Your Middle Schooler
Temperature: Any lunch you pack will have to maintain the proper temperature so that food poisoning doesn't become a risk. The general rule is keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Take advantage of any sales to stock up on ice packs and at least two thermoses. Make sure your tween understands that these items should return home after use -- so they don't accidentally end up in the cafeteria trash can.
Choose Water Over Soda: Soda is a big no-no if you're trying to pack a healthy lunch. Opt for water instead or home brewed unsweetened ice tea in a thermos. You can throw in a fruit juice occasionally, just opt for the 100 percent juice variety without any added sugar or corn syrup.
Think Fruit: A piece of fruit in your child's lunch can serve as dessert, a healthier alternative to cupcakes and cookies. Choose fruits that are in season for optimal taste. Grapes, berries, apples, oranges and bananas pack well in a lunch tote. Consider including a small container of caramel or chocolate sauce as a fruit dip.
If your child enjoys crunchy food, consider sending fruit chips in place of potato chips. Apple chips, banana chips or even freeze dried green beans or peas can give your tween the crunch (and the hint of sweet or salt) that she's craving.
Veggies CAN Work: Vegetables are at the heart of a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating, but many parents think their children just won't eat veggies, but if you take the time to present veggies in a fun way, you might be surprised. Consider sending your child to school with veggies that he can dip in ranch dressing (such as carrots, celery, radishes, or even broccoli). Or, send your child to school with celery and a small container of organic nut butter such as peanut butter or cashew butter. You could also try packing a healthy salad complete with salad, veggies, croutons, and diced turkey and a small container of favorite salad dressing. Or swap out the salad for a pasta salad with veggies, cheese and diced meat.
Leftovers are Yummy: Last night's dinner could be lunch today, as long as you can keep the dish at the proper temperature and as long as it's easy for your child to eat. Consider sending leftovers such as whole wheat spaghetti with a marinara sauce, vegetable soup or stew, home-made chili or any other meal that packs well and will keep your child nourished until dinner.
Don't Forget Calcium: Tweens still require calcium as they're growing and using it to build up their bones. If your child is a milk drinker, you could send along a cold box of low fat milk. If your tween doesn't like milk or is lactose intolerant, consider a calcium enriched substitute or a lactose-free milk. Other calcium enriched drinks such as rice milk, almond milk or soy milk may also provide your child with the nutrition he needs. Just pay attention to the sugar content. Chilled or frozen yogurt, or slices of low-fat cheese may also be an option.