Lunch can stump you. If you have to pack a lunch to send to school, you have to walk the line between sending something familiar so they don't get teased and sending something nutritious. If you spend any time at all in most school lunchrooms, you will see more packaged foods than homemade lunches and you will see the dessert gets eaten first, the fruit gets thrown into the garbage and there’s more talking than eating going on. If your children are sent to school with a good breakfast, you can breathe easily knowing that they will make it through the day without starving – so there is no need to go to the lowest common denominator to get them to "eat something, anything!" Better to keep them hungry for after school and dinner than to fill them up with junk.
Liquid is most important here, a good drink will keep their bodies from becoming dehydrated and that is equally, if not more, important than lunch. The trick here is to make sure they get a good glass of high protein milk – soy, rice or almond milk works too! (Ideally, you can purchase it from school so you don't have to stock and transport it). And don’t forget something interesting enough for them to nibble.
If milk is not available at school then invest in a few small containers, pour one of the milks into it and partially freeze it so it will stay cold. Nothing turns you off of milk faster than a sour one. A tiny packet of chocolate protein powder is not the end of the world and it’s a better option than buying the chocolate milk itself. Although I am dead-set against the caffeine in cocoa being fed to our kids, some kids simply won't drink white milk and at least you can control the amount by packaging a teaspoon of chocolate protein powder mixed with a teaspoon and letting them add it themselves; shaking it adds to the fun.
If you can whip up a smoothie with blueberries and whey protein powder, you have at least one power-packed fruit to rest your laurels on. If that doesn’t work, try frozen bananas blended with hemp seeds (they aren’t a nut and are allowed at school!) fill baggies and freeze. This goo can be squeezed out a corner for great good fun!
All you really want is to be sure that something stabilizes the blood sugar and keeps them thinking until after school. That’s when you knock ‘em out with a fruit and veggie tray…they will be starving! It’s the best time to get ‘em.
About the Author:
Theresa Albert is a nutritionist and food communications consultant. Her Food Network show,Just One Bite! aired for 5 years on both Food Network and BBC Kids. She is currently a trusted on-camera correspondent for CTV Newschannel as well as CBC and regular health expert on the daily lifestyle show, Steven and Chris which airs internationally.
Named one of Canada’s Top 25 Tweeters by Today’s Parent Magazine and one of Savvymom.ca’s 35 Favorite Bloggers, she is called for comment from every major magazine, newspaper and television outlet in Canada. She has a weekly column in the Metro Newspaper and regularly writes features for Today’s Parent, Canadian Family Magazine and blogs at Huffington Post.