What do you typically pack for your kid’s lunch? There are many different ways to add fun foods to your brown paper bag with a variety of nutrients to enjoy during the day. Find recipes and other healthy eating tips at here to give you more ideas for packing lunches.

Here are a few simple steps and ideas in order to pack a tasty and nutritious lunch:

  • Let your child help you pack his/her lunch. This will introduce them to foods that are healthy and they will enjoy their lunch more the next day knowing that they helped to prepare it.
  • Go green by eliminating the use of plastic sandwich bags. Find a reusable and fun colored Tupperware container to use that your kids will enjoy.
  • Packing  your child’s lunch will allow for them to have more time to actually eat during lunch time if they don’t have to buy it.  Most kids have around 20 minutes to eat lunch, so provide them with easy to eat and easy to open packages to save time.
  • Fill their lunch box with small foods that are easy for the kids to handle as well as fun to eat.  For instance, pack the ingredients for a sandwich and let the child put together his/her own sandwich to add some fun to lunch time.
  • Finish up by packing something fun: a sticker, small note, small cookie wrapped in plastic with a ribbon, fruit on a stick, dessert cut into a playful shape.
  • Do not forget the drink to top off the meal. Send water, low-fat milk to add calcium and vitamin D or 100% fruit juice. Avoid sweetened beverages that contain excess sugar such as any soda. According to dietitians, sweet soft drinks provide essentially no key nutrients and are sweetened with either sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.  Check this out to help choose appropriate beverages for children.

If you have other questions about healthy eating, cooking, or meal planning contact your local VA’s dietitian.

And finally, some ideas on what to pack for lunch boxes:

  • Turkey sandwich cut into squares, baby carrots and grapes
  • Peanut butter and jelly tortilla wraps, peach, homemade snack mix (dried fruits, unsalted nuts and pretzels, baked crackers)
  • Turkey wrap or sandwich cut up into pieces, small handful goldfish, small handful pretzels, raisins, strawberries
  • Grilled chicken strips, 5 whole-grain crackers, 3 slices cheese, mixed fruit (grapes and peaches), small salad with tomatoes
  • Pasta salad with vegetables, apple, salad
  • Six small sushi bites, strawberries, snack peas
  • Meat and cheese slices, pasta mixed with pesto, crunchy vegetable sticks, mixed fruit

Olivia Wagoner is a dietetic intern at the Memphis VA Medical Center. She loves to spend her free time trying new recipes, running and enjoying her Saturday mornings at the local downtown Memphis farmer’s market.

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One Comment

  1. Tracy September 11, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    my daughters (one is a vegetarian that eats fish/seafood) the other is like the rest of the family, trying to cut way back on the red meats and animal products…usually have in their lunch….a green salad with Romaine, red leaf and spinach, dressing. Water or if they’re lucky, a capri juice or gatorade/powerade. We try very hard to keep nutrisweet out of the lunch box, a fruit (raw) no canned or processed, and another source of protein or whole grain like raw almonds or Trader Joe’s whole wheat bread (there’s only like 4-5 ingredients and you can pronouce them all) with natural, no sugar added, peanut butter or almond butter and banana, honey or (no sugar added)fruit spread, and they like this! They may have cheese pizza on occasion or tuna or egg salad, but it is all made from scratch, so we know what’s in it. Dr. Furhman is a miracle man – whole foods and grains/raw nuts/ raw seeds is the way to go! Sometimes, my vegetarian will have a tofu dish in place of her salad with mixed veggies or they’ll add carrots/celery and dip to their lunch and a granola bar or granola cereal as a snack. (ages 14 and 12 – 9th and 6th graders)

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