Creative, Healthy School Lunch Tips:
1. Make It healthy - Include at least 3 of the 5 core foods:
i. Low-fat dairy: Milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, pudding made with fat free milk
ii. Meat and protein foods: lunch meats, leftover meats/poultry/fish from dinner, tuna, peanut butter, cheese, soy products such as tofu or veggie burgers
iii. Fruit: Fresh, canned in juice (water), dried, 100% juice, or frozen (to thaw by lunch time and keep lunch boxes chilled).
iv. Vegetables: Carrot, celery, cucumber, bell pepper, zucchini strips, grape/cherry tomatoes, lettuce for sandwiches or salads, soup in a thermos made with extra vegetables
v. Whole Grains: whole wheat breads, pita, tortillas, English muffins for sandwiches and other whole grains including whole wheat pasta, rice, cereals, crackers
b. Trade up: Check and compare the NuVal scores of foods – white bread has NuVal scores of about 21, while Whole Grain white breads have scores of about 33. Cheesy snack crackers have a score about 11, while Whole grain Goldfish have a NuVal score of 28.
Lunch Menu 1: Pumpkin bread* Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwich
Sugar Snap Peas
Fresh Orange (cut into wedges)
2. Make it Fun - Lunch time goes quickly, so make sure lunch time is enjoyable and easy to eat.
a. Pack foods that are easy to open and don’t require much cutting. Include fruit that is easy to peel or send cut fruit and vegetables.
b. Add a special treat: a note, small game riddle, cartoon, or write a quick note on a banana peel.
c. Have the kids help prepare their lunch.
d. Use fun pasta shapes for salads or cut sandwiches in to fun shapes.
Lunch Menu 2: Whole Wheat English Muffin Pizza*
Yogurt cup with granola topping
100% Juice box
3. Make it Safe -
a. Always prepare lunches on clean work surfaces and with clean hands.
b. Keep cold foods cold with freezer gel packs and use insulated lunch boxes (pre-chill foods and the lunch box). Use frozen juice boxes and/or frozen yogurt tubes.
c. Keep hot foods hot using a thermos. Pre-heat the thermos: first fill with boiling water, allow to rest 1-3 minutes, empty water and fill with hot foods such as soup or stew.
d. Pack hand wipes or hand sanitizer gel.
Lunch Menu 3: Very Veggie Soup*
Whole Grain Goldfish
2% Milk Cheese Sticks
Fat Free Milk
4. Make it Budget Wise -
a. Resist the individually packaged foods – these cost more, sometime a lot more! Buy snack size zipper-lock bags and create your own snack packs of healthier chips, cookies, trail mix, etc.
i. To teach portion control, have your kids create their own 100 calorie packs. Look up portion sizes and calorie counts on Nutrition Facts labels and online.
b. Purchase foods in bulk when it makes sense – don’t “overbuy” perishable foods that may spoil before you can use.
c. Plan menus and take advantage of sale items when planning. Clip and use coupons.
d. Pack the right amount of food: Pack too little food and your child will buy foods at the school café to supplement lunch; Pack too much food and uneaten food will go to waste.
Lunch Menu 4: Chicken Veggie Pasta Salad*
Short Cut Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie*
Chocolate Low fat Milk
5. Make it Sustainable - Sustainability studies by environmental groups estimate that each average school-age child who has mostly single serving packaged items in their lunch generates 67 pounds of waste each school year.
a. Use a BPA free plastic or stainless steel beverage bottle and thermos.
b. Pack lunches in reusable insulated lunch bags. Use more BPA free washable containers and fewer disposable plastic and paper bags.
c. Pack washable, reusable silverware and napkins.
Lunch Menu 5: Cheesy Chicken Quesadillas* with Salsa
Simply Gogurt (freeze and use as ice pack)
2 mini candy bars
3 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
2 tsp. Meijer baking powder
1 tsp. Meijer baking soda
1/2 tsp. Meijer salt
1 1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice (or - 1 tsp. McCormick ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. McCormick ground nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. McCormick ground ginger)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Smart Balance Butter Blend (1 stick)
1 16-oz. can solid pack pumpkin
Optional: 1/2 cup dates - chopped, 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Serves 12Ingredients:3 cups white whole wheat flour1/4 cup ground flaxseed2 tsp. Meijer baking powder1 tsp. Meijer baking soda1/2 tsp. Meijer salt1 1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice (or - 1 tsp. McCormick ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. McCormick ground nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. McCormick ground ginger)1/2 cup packed brown sugar1/2 cup granulated sugar1/2 cup Smart Balance Butter Blend (1 stick)2 eggs1 16-oz. can solid pack pumpkinOptional: 1/2 cup dates - chopped, 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spray a 9”x 5” loaf pan with pan spray (or 4 mini-loaf pans).
3. In a medium bowl, mix flours, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
4. In a large mixing bowl, beat on medium speed margarine, eggs, pumpkin and then adding sugar last, beat until well blended.
5. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix only until moistened. (Optional - stir in chopped dates and walnuts).
6. Spoon batter evenly into pan(s). Note: Lightly sprinkle raw batter with additional ground nuts if desired.
7. Bake approximately 50 to 60 minutes (about 40 minutes for mini-loaves); unit toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (If top of loaf browns to quickly, loosely cover with aluminum foil until baking is completed.)
8. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes. Remove from baking pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories 295, Fat 8g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrate 49g, Sodium 240 mg, Fiber 5g, Protein 7g.
English Muffin Pizzas
4 Whole Grain (whole wheat) English muffins, split
1/2 cup prepared pizza sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded 2% milk mozzarella cheese
1 cup lean ham, diced
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Place the English muffin halves cut side up onto a baking sheet. Spoon some of the pizza sauce onto each one. Top with mozzarella cheese and diced ham.
3. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven or until the cheese is melted and browned on the edges.
Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories 298, Fat 7.5g, Cholesterol 31 mg, Sodium 830 mg, Carbohydrate 31g, Fiber 3g, Protein 24g.
Very Veggie Soup
1 can (18.5 oz.) Campbell’s Select Harvest Light Soup
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
1. Heat soup and vegetables to a medium boil.
2. Pour into heated thermos and seal tightly.
Nutrition Information (per serving – will vary with soup variety): Calories 115, Fat 1g, Cholesterol 5mg, Sodium 480 mg, Carbohydrate 23g, Fiber 4g, Protein 3g.
Garden Pasta Salad
4 cups Barilla Pasta Plus Penne pasta, cooked
1 bag Meijer frozen Florentine Style Vegetables (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower), thawed
1 ½ cup cooked chicken, cut in bite size pieces (Meijer rotisserie chicken)
½ cup Wishbone light ranch dressing
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse pasta in cold water.
2. Add to vegetables and chicken to pasta.
3. Pour salad dressing over pasta mixture; toss to coat.
4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories 360, Fat 9g fat, Cholesterol 49 mg, Sodium 373 mg, Carbohydrate 45g, Fiber 7g, Protein 25g.
Shortcut Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 17.5 oz. pkg. Betty Crocker Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookie mix
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 stick (1/2 cup) Smart Balance Butter Blend
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In medium bowl, stir cookie mix, flax seed, butter and egg until soft dough forms.
3. Line baking sheet with parchment baking paper (if desired) and drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheet.
4. Bake 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned.
5. Remove from oven and cool completely.
Cheesy Chicken Quesadillas
2 cups diced cooked chicken (canned or Meijer rotisserie)
1/2 cup 2% milk reduced fat Mexican blend cheese
2 tbls chopped red onion
2 tsp 40% less sodium Old El Paso Taco Seasoning Mix
1 1/2 tbls chopped fresh cilantro (or 1/2 tsp. McCormick dried cilantro flakes)
4 6-inch Meijer whole grain tortilla shells
Salsa (1/4 cup per person)
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl mix together chicken, cheese, onion, taco seasoning and cilantro.
3. Place 2 tortillas on a baking sheet, spread chicken mixture evenly over the tortillas.
4. Top each with another tortilla and press down gently.
5. Bake 8 minutes or until cheese is melted.
6. Serve with salsa.
Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories 260, Fat 8g, Cholesterol 45 mg, Sodium 580mg, Carbohydrate 25g, Fiber 2g, Protein 22g.
Posted on Thu, September 9, 2010
by Healthy Living Dietitians