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The Ultimate Lunchbox Guide

The Ultimate Lunchbox Guide

Tips to build a healthy lunchbox without the stress

 

We reached out to Melanie Marcus, Dole’s Registered Dietitian and a mom of two, for her expert advice on how to effortlessly create a healthy lunch. Check out her top recommendations for building a nutritious meal!

 

“As a dietitian and a mom, I understand the importance and stress of creating a well-balanced meal for kids. One of the most important meals of the day is lunchtime, especially for children who need an energy-filled lunch to help them concentrate and stay focused throughout the day. A healthy lunchbox doesn’t need to be a stressful task. Let me guide you through five components that are crucial in building the ultimate balanced lunchbox for your kids.”

 

1.     Incorporate Whole Grains:  Whole grains are an important source of energy and fiber for kids. They keep them feeling full and provide fuel for the learning brain throughout the day. You can incorporate whole grains in many ways, such as whole grain bread, pasta, homemade muffins, crackers, leftover mac and cheese, tortillas, and more. You can also mix different types of grains to keep things interesting, like quinoa, millet, and brown rice.

 

2.      Lean Protein Sources:  Including lean protein in your kid’s lunchbox is essential to keep them satisfied and focused. Some great sources of lean protein include turkey, ham, edamame, beans, yogurt, string cheese, and nut or seed butter. Ensure that you are using kid-friendly vs adult-sized portions. For example, a 2-3 ounce serving of turkey is an appropriate portion size for most kids 4-8 years old.

 

3.      1-2 Fruits:  Fruits are a great source of vitamins and fiber for kids. Fresh berries such as strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are high in antioxidants and fiber.  Banana is an ideal, easy-to-pack option, while diced melon, kiwi, dried apricots, raisins, and freeze-dried strawberries or apples are also great. To make fruits more fun for your kids, try cutting them into fun shapes with cookie cutters.

 

4.      1-2 Vegetables:  A diet high in vegetables is packed with vital nutrients, and they help ward off diseases like obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Sliced cucumber, carrot sticks, celery sticks, and leftover steamed vegetables are all excellent choices. Kids love to dip, so pack some hummus, ranch dressing, or salsa to make veggies more appetizing.

 

5.      Something Just for Fun:  Don’t forget to include something just for fun in your kid’s lunchbox. This could be anything from chickpea puffs to Cheez-Its, animal crackers, mini chocolate, or even a homemade fruit leather. The aim of this is to make lunchtime fun for your kids so that they do not feel deprived or burned out from eating the ‘healthy stuff’ all day.

 

Next time you’re in the lunch crunch, use these 5 tips to build a balanced lunch that checks all the nutrition boxes! With a bit of creativity, it can become a fun and stress-free ritual for both you and your little ones.

 

Published August 1, 2023

 

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