If you’re a parent, your child’s health is probably at the forefront of your mind right now. And while frequent hand-washing and mask-wearing can help protect your kiddo’s well-being at school, there are other things they can do to keep their bodies in prime condition.
Regular exercise is important, of course. Even though 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day, encouraging your child to get moving can help them sleep better and boost their energy — allowing them to build a strong immune system.
But eating well also needs to be a priority. While the school food industry serves 4.9 billion lunches each year to stuudents nationwide, the lunches they’re able to buy in line may not always follow your own checklist for healthy eating. Whether your child is attending class in-person or is learning from home this year, you can do your part to make sure healthy foods are on the menu.
But if your child is already sick of peanut butter and jelly and you’re running out of nutritious ideas, what should you pack (or pull out of the pantry and fridge)? One-third of homeowners change to a healthier lifestyle after remodeling their kitchen, but you don’t need a property renovation to enjoy more nutritious meals. Here are just a few delicious lunch ideas that will help your child stay healthy and satisfied this school year.
Make a Quesadilla
Really, a quesadilla has all of the elements of a sandwich — only it’s warm and often filled with gooey cheese. Quesadillas are easy to make and can even be prepared ahead of time; they can also be eaten hot or cold, which makes them a good choice for school lunches. You can fill whole grain, corn, or flour tortillas with cheese, fresh veggies (like tomatoes, spinach, peppers, or onions) and add some protein with chicken, leftover steak, or black beans. You could even add a bit of sweetness with fresh-sliced apple or pear. Pack some guacamole, sour cream, and salsa as an accompaniment for some extra flavor and healthy fat.
Try Some Crudités
If sandwiches aren’t your kid’s favorite, why not try a healthy snack plate instead? Fill a Bento box with fresh-cut veggies like carrot and celery sticks, bell pepper, cucumber, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes. Then, add a dip like hummus, guacamole, salsa, black bean dip, or yogurt dip. Include some pita chips, string cheese, fresh berries, and turkey pepperoni to complete the meal.
Suggest Soup and Salad
Although there are plenty of healthy sandwich alternatives that don’t include nut butter or jam, it’s nice to get a break from lunch meat, too. Soup and salad is a timeless combination that can easily be packed up or made fresh at home. Just make sure to use an airtight thermos and to keep the dressing on the side. Chicken noodle soup is lauded for its immune-boosting properties, but you can’t go wrong with tomato, lentil, minestrone, or chili. Serve with any kind of salad your child likes — whether it’s a classic Caesar, strawberry and spinach, southwestern, or avocado and turkey.
The reality is that school lunches can be nutritious — and nutritious doesn’t mean boring. With these healthy meal ideas, you can make sure your child gets the fuel they need to stay focused throughout the day.