Sip and Savor

A healthy lunchbox

We’ll help you stock your fridge and pantry so that you can make nutritious lunches in minutes.

It’s a fact: Children who eat balanced meals are more likely to stay alert at school. They’re also more likely to do better in their studies and earn higher grades overall. So if your child is about to head back to school, then we’ve got some tips that will make your life easier – and help make sure your kids eat healthy when they aren’t at your table.

Let there be carrots. Fresh produce should be the centerpiece of any meal. And kids will be more likely to eat their lunch if they had a say in what went into it. So send them to school with their favorite fruits and veggies, and be sure they’ve got something healthy to dip them in. Skip the ranch dressing in favor of dips like yogurt or hummus.

Go for whole grains. While whole-grain bread makes for healthier sandwiches, it’s not your only option. How about pita bread or tortillas? Whole-grain versions of both are easy to find in your grocery store. Fill them up with turkey, cheese or hummus, add sliced veggies and you’ve got lunch all “wrapped” up. Whole-grain waffles can also do double duty as sandwiches. If your picky eater likes them for breakfast, they can be enjoyed at lunch with some natural peanut or almond butter (if nuts are permitted at your child’s school) and fresh fruit like sliced strawberries and bananas.

Keep them hydrated. Hydration is just as important as the rest of the meal, but the healthiest option is an easy one: water. Let them pick out a reusable water bottle and send water with them every day. Or tuck milk money in their lunch box so that they can buy low-fat milk in the school cafeteria. Skip the soda and juice, and your kids will avoid all the sugar and empty calories that come with both.

Stay cool (and hot). Foods that need to stay warm (like soup) should be packed in a thermos. And here’s a tip: To help it hold the heat, fill the thermos with boiling water for a couple of minutes first. Items that should be chilled can stay that way with the help of ice packs. Or pack them next to your child’s water bottle and fill it with ice cubes.

Build a snack plate. Bored with lunch? Skip the sandwich and fill your child’s lunch box with finger foods like cheese cubes, almonds, grapes, orange slices, carrot sticks and plain popcorn. Throw in a square of dark chocolate for a sweet surprise!

Do some prep work. Try packing lunch right after dinner the night before instead of when everyone’s trying to fight their way out the door in the morning. And don’t skip the note! Buy a package of sticky notes on your next shopping trip and write them in advance. The message doesn’t need to be long or creative – a simple “Love you” or “Have a great day” takes seconds to write but can mean a lot to your child.