How To Pack Your Kid’s Lunch While Running Out The Door {nutrition tips}

17 Sep

As we’re all getting ready for school again and scrambling to remember teacher’s names and our kid’s friend’s first names, some of us also need to pack a lunch everyday to send along with our little one. This can add stress to an already fully packed schedule for mom. (On many nights, it’s sometimes too much for me to even pre-pour S’s sippy cups full of milk.) So I’ll break it down and make it as simple a process as possible. I advise preparing lunch the night before while you prepare yourself a chilled glass of pinot grigio.

healthy eating four quadrant plate fruits vegetables grains and protein

#1 Divide your kid’s plate into 4 quadrants. Fill each one with either protein (think: animal, plant, low-fat/plain dairy), whole grain, veggie, or fruit.
#2 Get creative. Or, more likely, refer to this here list:

IDEAS:
~Natural PB and banana on whole grain bread with baby carrots. Finito.
~Turkey + cheese with lettuce and tomato on tortilla. Roll it. Cut it up. Slice some red grapes. You’re done.
~Tri-color pasta with baby tomatoes and chickpeas. Pop-top can of fruit packaged in it’s own juices. Voila.
~Steamed edamame, baby carrots with single-serving size of hummus, cut up apple. Check. Check. Check.
~String cheese, whole wheat low-sodium crackers (I like Wheat Thins with 3g fiber), cubed watermelon, cucumber slices with low-fat ranch dip.
~Low-fat plain yogurt with berries. Mini sandwiches of whole wheat crackers with hummus or white bean dip. Baby carrots.

No need to get fancy about anything. Let’s just quickly go over what constitutes each category before you lose your buzz:

Protein consists of 1) low-fat/plain dairy products (cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese, milk). Every now and then switch up your kid’s glass of cow’s milk with almond milk*. It has twice the calcium of cow’s milk and half the calories. *Bonus points for keeping it unsweetened.
2) Plants. Think hummus, beans, lentils, edamame, soy, tofu.
3) Animals. Anything with a face and a heart.

Whole grains are any grain product made with the good stuff. Think rice (barley, bulgur, brown rice, etc), pasta (whole or alternative-grain), and breads. Also starchy veggies I put under this category. That includes peas, sweet potatoes, corn and anything else I may have forgotten to include.

Keep the veggies colorful and try to introduce a new one every now and then.

Fruit shouldn’t be bigger than a baseball, unless you’re someone like me who only chooses apples bigger than S’s head.

Lots of love and good wishes surviving this school year.

If you’re looking for further reading or video material, check out my segment on NY1!

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