As Jamie Oliver has proven on his quest to investigate what schools are serving our children, school lunches are not a healthy choice. Packing a brown bag lunch may be the perfect solution to help children eat healthier and to save a bit of money as well. In 2008, the School Nutrition Association estimated that it cost about $2.66 to prepare a school lunch. Unfortunately, that lunch usually consists of unhealthy items like pizza, tater tots, fruit in heavy syrup and other low-nutrient, high carb foods. The price of food has increased since 2008, so school lunches in your area may cost even more. Wouldn’t you rather spend that money on foods that will support your child’s health? Here are some easy lunch ideas to get you started:
Easy Lunch Ideas
- Half a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread, an apple with natural peanut butter and bottled water
- Pizza toppings, whole wheat pita bread, an orange, and 1% milk
- Homemade soup, salad with low-fat dressing, multi-grain chips, water
- Bean and cheese burrito (easy lunch idea if the school has a microwave to heat this up), multi-grain tortilla chips, salsa and diet soda
- Chicken tacos (pack the chicken separately, so it can be heated), strawberries, water
- Pasta (use dreamfields and organic tomato sauce), add a slice of low calorie bread with butter substitute, veggie it up with a big salad and add some dairy with 1% milk
- Leftover anything. If you cook healthy dinners, or even just healthier than the school lunch, plan ahead and make enough extra for everyone to take to lunch the next day.
Not Quite Ready to Commit to a Bagged Lunch?
If putting together a complete lunch is more than you have time for right now, consider allowing your child to buy an ala cart main item from the lunch menu, assuming your school allows this, and add healthy sides, like fresh fruit, vegetables or healthier for you chips made from beans or veggies. Little changes can go a long way toward improving overall diet, so start with baby steps and move toward an overall healthier lunch.
Sprinkle in diet sodas and sugar free or low sugar treats occasionally to add some interest to your child’s lunch.