Brighten school lunches with these healthy ideas!
Whether you’re new to AWS or just are stuck in a lunch menu rut, here are some ideas to make lunch time more delicious and nutritious for your child. Our food policy may seem daunting at first, but just a few small changes can make a big difference. When students eat a balanced diet, they feel better and are able to better focus on their studies, and maintain energy levels for the full length of the school day. Feeding them good food is one of the best ways you can help to prepare them for success at school.
Before doing anything drastic, keep in mind that there is no need to break the bank and spend hundreds of dollars at the health-food store, and you don’t have to start milking your own grass-fed cows or baking your own bread, either.
We ask that parents provide lunches with no pre-packaged or processed foods, or anything with added sugar. Why? Pre-packaged, processed foods often contain added preservatives, artificial food coloring, extra sodium, and added sugar, all of which can negatively affect a growing child’s body and brain, causing hyperactivity, shortened attention span, inability to focus, fatigue, listlessness and lack of motivation.
As with any healthy lifestyle, focus on making small, positive steps. Kids tend to prefer more simple foods, anyway. First, take stock of what you currently pack in your child's lunch box. Is there a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, and nutrient-rich foods such as vegetables and fruits? Read food labels. Are there any pre-packaged items that you could trade out for more simple, wholesome ones? Anything containing added sugar? Common culprits of added sugar that masquerade as “healthy” food are cereals, granola, granola bars, fruit bars, protein bars (any kind of bar, really!), pre-packaged yogurt cups and smoothies, and trail mix with added chocolate pieces.
• Invest in some sturdy food containers, and one good thermos. These eco-friendly containers by ECOlunchbox are good for your child and the planet!
• Prepare foods in advance, and pack lunches the night before. For example, on the weekend, you can plan meals and divide portions into separate containers. Then, the night before, prepare anything that needs to be cooked or assembled. Remember not to send juice boxes to school — water is the best thirst-quencher!
• Leftovers make great lunches. Soup, burritos, potatoes, rice and beans, and pasta all are good, nourishing options and easy to warm up and pack into a thermos.
• When it comes to bread, pita and crackers, choose brands with the least amount of ingredients.
• Instead of pre-packaged yogurt cups with added sweetener, purchase a larger tub of whole-milk plain yogurt and divide into smaller containers for the week. Add a handful of chopped fruit, such as strawberries, blueberries or bananas - and voila! A delicious and more healthy snack. Also, keep in mind that greek yogurt has more protein and less carbs than regular.
• Our campus is peanut-free due to students with life-threatening allergies, so please do not send kids to school with anything containing peanuts or peanut butter. Popular substitutes include almond butter, sunflower-seed butter and cashew butter.
• What veggies will your picky child eat? We notice that kids tend to prefer carrots, avocado, green peas, broccoli, cauliflower, and beans!
Lunch Menu Ideas
Whole-milk yogurt with strawberries
Sunflower seed butter & sliced banana on whole-grain bread
Tortilla chips & salsa
Hummus, with carrots and olives
Caprese salad (tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, olive oil, basil, salt & pepper)
Simple chicken noodle soup: rice & quinoa pasta, with cooked carrots and peas in chicken broth.
Avocado & goat cheese toast: 1/2 ripe avocado + 2 Tbsp. goat cheese, spread on gluten-free toast.
Sliced apples & almond butter
Whole-grain crackers with cucumber slices & cream cheese
Black beans with roasted garlic & rice
Quinoa salad with chickpeas
Taziki (yogurt & cucumber salad) with gluten-free pita chips
Turkey, lettuce and mayo wraps
What's in your child's lunch box? Send us your ideas and photographs, we'll publish them in our weekly e-newsletter, The Tuesday Talker, to help inspire other parents!