We want our kids to eat healthy lunches and snacks at school. The challenge is satisfying their taste buds while ensuring balanced nutrition… and of course, that their lunches will get eaten and not hit the trashcan. I know with my work in schools, I have seen a whole lot of what I think is good-looking food hit the garbage, especially the fruits and veggies.
Moms are busy and we not only need ideas for healthy lunches and snacks, but we also need the occasional shortcut too! Plus, there is also the after-school snack to consider.
After talking with other moms, and a little trial and error, I came up with some simple and healthy lunch, snack, and after-school snack ideas that kids will love.
- Hide the Veggies – Many kids scoff at eating veggies, so you may need to hide them! There are a lot of recipes out there for muffins, cakes, and cookies that incorporate vegetables. The kids get a treat, and you get peace of mind knowing there is some great nutrition in there too!
- Fruits and Veggies To Go – Great for lunches or on-the-go snacks, Del Monte Fruit Burst Squeezers offer the goodness of 1 ½ servings of fruits and vegetables. Their delicious fruit-forward taste is one kids will love, and they add some garden to the lunchbox!
- Try a Dip - Even picky eaters will often gobble up bite-sized pieces of fresh fruit and veggies when they have a yummy dip to go along with it. For a fruit dip, try mixing a little whipped cream into some strawberry or vanilla yogurt. A little bit of ranch dip goes a long way to helping kids eat their veggies. You can cut the fruits and veggies up ahead of time and store them in individual-sized baggies or containers for quick snacks on the go.
- Stock the Pantry at “Kid Level” with Healthy Snacks – Put some healthy snacks, like Del Monte Fruit Burst Squeezers and Plastic Fruit Cups, at kids’ eye level so they can grab their own snacks. They have no high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors and are an excellent source of Vitamin C. Kids love them!
- Smoothies - Make some smoothies ahead of time and freeze them. Pop one in your child’s lunch box in the morning and it will be thawed enough by lunchtime. Plus, it has the added benefit of keeping the rest of the lunch cool, like an ice pack. A good one to try is blending together 2/3 cup orange juice, 3/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt, 10 ounces frozen raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries (or a combination) and 1 teaspoon honey. Yummy!
- Chill – Pop some Del Monte Fruit Burst Squeezers in the fridge or freezer, then pop them in your kids’ lunches! Just like the homemade smoothie, they will be just right by lunchtime and will help keep the rest of the lunch cool.
Note: Don’t pack too much. Sometimes, in our efforts to ensure that our kids get enough good food to eat, we often over-pack, giving them more than what they can (or should) eat. This can lead to them eating just their favorites and leaving the rest (more often than not, that means leaving the fruits and veggies).
Consider having one of each item in their lunch: protein, fruit, vegetables, bread, and fat. Focus on the protein and fruit and vegetables, and bread and fat can be a smaller option in the lunchbox.
Good luck and Bon Appetite!