Editor’s note: Following is a guest blog by Sonal Agarwal MS RD. Sonal is a MSS parent, a Pediatric Dietitian at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, and mom of two very hungry and growing kids. Sonal loves to cook quick and easy recipes. She enjoys running and being outdoors with the family.
It’s February! Are you tired of racking your brain over school lunches yet? Does the same ham and cheese sandwich come back partially consumed? You are not alone in this.
I often have parents asking me “how do I get my kids to eat a healthy lunch?” Or they will tell me “my child is a picky eater!” Plus, every parent knows that just because you pack lunch, it doesn’t guarantee your kids will actually eat it. Packing lunches for your children is no easy task. It takes time and planning. Here are some ideas to make it easier.
Make a weekly/monthly lunch plan with your kids. Benefit of doing this: the kids might actually eat what they picked and this will help you with grocery shopping on the weekend. Make it a fun family activity!
Keep in mind what a balanced meal looks like. Current recommendations for a child’s meal include ½ plate filled with fruits and vegetables, ¼ plate filled with protein, ¼ plate filled with starch. I like to use myPlate created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It is an easy-to-follow food guide to help parents figure out how to feed their kids nutritious, balanced meals. Put this chart up on your fridge and ask your kids, “do you have all the colors from this chart in your lunch box?”
Give those lunches a colorful lift. Think of ways you can add a vegetable to those favorite foods. A new favorite in our home is a guacamole (avocado, tomato, onion and cilantro) and cheddar sandwich. How would you elevate a mac and cheese dish? Riced broccoli and cauliflower from Trader Joe’s does the trick! Stick with your favorite mac and cheese recipe. The only edition is to add some riced broccoli and/or cauliflower for last 2 minutes left when cooking the macaroni. Strain the pasta as usual and add their favorite sauce.