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Pack a Nutritious and Delicious School Lunch

Here are some tips to follow when you’re shopping for and packing lunches:

Make your child’s lunch using the “MyPlate” profile. This means making half the lunch with fruits and vegetables, half with grains and whole grains, and including sources of protein and dairy.

Aim to make fruits and vegetables as colorful as possible. Encourage kids to pick out new fruits and vegetables to try while grocery shopping. Include a fruit salad with a variety of colors like strawberries, grapes, melon, and berries.

Cut fruits and vegetables into fun shapes. Pre-chop fruits and vegetables at the beginning of the week to promote use in lunches and afternoon snacks. Chop into shapes like cubes, melon balls, or shape with cookie cutters. Include dips such as peanut butter, ranch, or hummus.

Pair nutrient-dense grains and protein. Choose whole grain bread, wraps, or pitas and pair with a lean protein. Some suggestions include:

  • tuna wrap with low-fat mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato
  • egg salad sandwich on whole grain bread
  • peanut or almond butter and 100% fruit spread on whole grain bread
  • cubed grilled chicken with veggies and ranch on a whole wheat wrap

Make your dairy count! Dairy products are especially important to build the growing bones of kids and teens. Include low-fat dairy such as skim milk, low-fat cheese, and low-fat yogurt in every meal. Choose milk and yogurt more often because these have more potassium and less sodium than cheese. Milk and most yogurts are also fortified with vitamin D.

These tips, from Rachel Jackson, DHEC Dietetic Intern and Alexandra Lautenschlaeger, RD, LD Mgr, Clinical Nutrition & Informatics, are just some of the ways you can make a better and more balanced lunch for your kids.

What are some nutritious options you’ve found that your kids really enjoy?

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