Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Let's Do Lunch

Whenever you ask children at school what part of the day they enjoy most, many will say LUNCH and RECESS!  Over the years I have seen students bring many different kinds of lunches. Students bring in everything from sushi to Lunchables. At our school we do not provide a "hot" lunch so each day student must bring their own lunch.  I believe that from first grade up, students should make their own lunches

Here are a few tips to help you!
Pack lunch the night before.  This will help save time in the morning.  Make it part of your evening routine. 

Include a cloth placemat and napkin.  When students unpack their lunch they can set up the placemat which helps them define the table space.  The placemat also puts a barrier between their food and the table, so if they drop a grape on the placemat, it would be safe to pick it up and eat it.

Be sure students can easily open the containers that hold their food.  If you want to send food with such as soup or tuna in the can, the student should practice opening cans like these at home.  This includes oranges, cut them into quarters for easy eating.

Pack a variety of foods.  The best lunches are the ones that have small amounts of different types of food colors and textures.  Small containers of colorful fruit, crunchy veggies, creamy yogurt, and small sandwiches or wraps are the easiest for most young children to eat. 

Let your child pick out the foods he or she wishes to have for lunch within limits.  Ask your child to help choose which fruit they would like to eat, which veggie, what type of sandwich?  If you ask what do you want to eat for lunch?  The answer maybe cookies and ice cream, so avoid that question. 

Limit treats to one day each week.  Cookies, granola bars, fruit roll ups, and other special treats do not have to be an everyday option.  Pick one day each week and put a special treat in the lunch box, this will help children realize that these special items are occasional occurances.  Good nutrition is an everyday occurance.

Suggestions for Student Made Lunches
Wraps - Use whole wheat tortillas, students can choose their favorite lunch filling, pb and j, turkey with lettuce, cream cheese and chopped celery, or ham and cheese.  Students can fill and roll their wrap.   Cut into small pieces for easy eating.

Cubes - Cheese cut into cubes, sandwiches cut into quarters (or use cookie cutters for fun shapes), fruit and veggies cut into cubes, all of these items are fun to eat and easy to pick up!

Dips - A container of ranch dressing, peanut butter, cream cheese, salsa, or hummus along with carrots, celery, cucumbers, apple slices,  or whole wheat pita make a fun and satisfying lunch.

Water - Water is the best beverage choice.  I have seen many students bring fruit juice as their drink.  When they drink the fruit juice it fills them up!  Many times they do not eat the more nutritious food because of the sugar in the fruit juice.

Just wanted to mention...
Students should be able to unpack their lunch box when returning home from school.  They can put items in the sink or dishwasher and wipe out their lunch box with a damp paper towel.

Always include an ice pack in the lunch box for food safety.

Avoid prepacked lunches that can be purchased.  Students will learn more about nutrition and food planning if they are able to help you plan and choose healthy options.

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