Basic Balancing For Your Lunch Box
To my seven year old son, an ideal sack lunch would include several cookies, some milk, and maybe 3 grapes just so he can say he had some fruit. Unfortunately for him, his mother has some different views of what "balanced meal" means. Lately I have been trying to teach him about "My Plate" and give him the tools to make better choices. Does this mean that he willingly gives up the cookies and fills his plate with vegetables? Not so much! He is, however, learning...one choice at a time...what his body needs in order to be healthy.
This also helps us make adjustments for seasonal availability as well. Once we had that all together lunches became much easier. He looks at the poster each week and he knows that he is to pick one item from each category. He can generally tell me pretty quickly which grain (I try to throw in whole grains where I can get away with it), protein, fruit, vegetable, and dairy item he wants. Having the favorites already listed makes things roughly a billion times easier with my son. He hates decisions so the infinite option approach was frustrating for all of us! Once he makes his selections from his already-established favorites, I am able to put together a healthy lunch that I trust he will eat, because he was involved in choosing it! And, of course, I always toss in a little treat for the end too... because I am a softy!
Here you can see each of my kids' lunch planning sheets. We make lots of changes because of preference changes, seasonal availability, etc. Each kid's is slightly different from the others'.
I asked my boys to help by sharing some of their favorite lunch combos. We hope you enjoy them!
Dax' Favorite Sack Lunch
(photo courtesy: breakfasteaters.org.nz)
Grain: Bread (whole wheat when I can)
Protein: Peanut Butter
Vegetable: Snap Peas (he would eat them with every meal if he could!)
Dairy: Chocolate Milk
Spread the peanut butter on the bread and then wrap it around the banana. Easy to make and easy to eat!
Noah's Favorite Sack Lunch
Homemade Lunch Stackers
Protein: Choice of sandwich meats
Vegetable: Small salad with ranch
When he eats this he can choose water, milk, or juice for a drink since he got his dairy in with the cheese.
Mom's Favorite Sack Lunch
Turkey Avocado Sandwich
(photo courtesy avocado.com.au)
Grain: Whole wheat bread (or tortilla if I am in the mood for a wrap)
Vegetable: Sprouts and avocado (technically a fruit, but choosemyplate.gov considers it a veggie so I will too!
Fruit: Strawberries or apples, depending on the season.
Whether you are packing a lunch for you to take to the office or for a toddler to take to the park, using the guidelines outlined by My Plate can help simplify the process and add nutrition to your next sack lunch!
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