Healthy eating, just like all healthy habits, has its part in keeping kids smoke free. Yet finding ways to keep our kids' homemade lunches healthy and satisfying-and tasty enough that they'll eat them-can feel like an ongoing battle. One thing to remember is that kids aren't gourmets needing something new and inventive every day. If you can find a couple of lunches they like, they'll eat the same meals over and over again. Still, it never hurts to mix things up and see if you can find a few new items to add to their lunch staples. Try these ideas and surprise your kids with meals that will make them smile.
- Skip the sandwich bread and use whole-grain tortilla rolls instead. Slice the rolls into diagonals for fun kid-sized shapes
- Serve meat roll-ups: turkey and cucumber, ham and cheese, roast beef and red pepper
- Quickie Quesadilla: Pile veggies and cheese on a whole-grain tortilla and melt in the microwave. Serve hot or cold
- Breakfast for lunch: Pack whole-grain mini-waffles with peanut butter* or honey or a healthy cereal with fruit toppings for lunch
- Lunch side picnic: Pack cheese and crackers, grapes and apple slices
- Kabobs - cut bite-size portions of foods your kids love and skewer them together - anything from chicken and pasta to veggies and fruit
- Stuffed potato - pack a white or sweet potato and pack the side items - bacon bits, broccoli, pecans, cheese, etc.
- New PB&J - try a rice cake spread with peanut butter and jelly
- Hard-boiled eggs are full of protein and make great meals. Or, if your kids love scrambled eggs, put cold scrambled eggs between sandwich bread with a slice of tomato for a breakfast sandwich
- Soup and salad - lots of kids love warm soup and if you give them the toppings they like, they're happy to build their own salad
- Side items: apple slices with peanut butter, carrots in ranch dressing, ants on a log (- celery stuffed with cream cheese and topped with raisins), string cheese, yogurt tubes
One additional tip: put something in your kids' lunch that they'll look forward to besides food. Try including a written encouraging note from mom or dad on a napkin, some stickers at the bottom of the lunch bag or-if your kids have made their own lunches all week-maybe a small gift card to their favorite store.
*If your child's school doesn't allow peanut butter, any nut butter makes a good alternative. Try almond butter, cashew butter or sunflower butter.