EduKids Early Childhood Education Centers

Packing Lunches?

Posted on: July 18, 2011

A good lunch should represent about a third of your child’s daily nutritional needs.  Depending on the age of your child, this can be an easy guide or difficult. Due to hectic summer schedules, it is easy to be talked into a quick lunch of fast food. It is also tempting to spend a lot of money on the pre-packed lunch collections that children open and eat.  While convenient for adults these typically are high in sodium and fat calories. They are difficult for young children to manage and create high garbage and waste.

Summer day camps, picnics at the park & beaches and neighborhood water days often find children and families packing a lunch.    “Brown bags” can be a selected canvas lunch bag or lunch box used each day. Be sure this is big enough for an ice pack and plastic container(s) for foods that need to be kept cold.  Thermoses and cloth napkins are also a wonderful way to keep lunches environmentally friendly.  The NYS Dept. of Conservation has estimated that disposable school lunches generate an average of 67 lbs of trash per child/year.  Summer lunch garbage adds to this!

When packing lunches, use this list as a starting guide and include:                                                                              

1 serving of protein                                                                                                                                                                      

 1 serving of dairy                                                                                                                                                                            

2 servings of fruit and/or vegetables                                                                                                                                              

2 servings of grain

Tips when planning and packing lunches:

*Let children plan their lunch and include children in food shopping
*Take time after dinner and prepare healthy lunches for the next day                                                                                                      *Combine new foods with children’s favorites
*Choose whole grain beads – sandwiches on toast are also favorites
*Include fresh, seasonal fruits
*Cut up, raw veggies with a yogurt dip and raisins are popular
*In containers close to the ice pack: cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, applesauce (with a spoon)
*Reuse zip lock bags filled with dry unsweetened cereal trail mix
*Include water to drink if there is a dairy serving of cheese or yogurt
* Bagel chips instead of potato chips
*Macaroni or potato salad – left-overs of favorite foods can often be packed
*Keep sweets and salt to a minimum

Be careful of group/camp food exclusions that often include peanut products.

For more information about nutrition and nutritious lunch choices investigate

www.kidshealth.org and www.healthychildren.org

 along with many other information websites for families.

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

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