While everyone needs a well-balanced diet to remain healthy and strong, the food we give our children needs to be especially nutritious and wholesome so that their young and developing bodies are nourished optimally.
This becomes all the more important when kids become old enough to go to school because parents won’t always be able to monitor what their children eat during school hours. This is why it’s always a good idea to prepare healthy meals and snacks that your kids can take to school.
If you want to make sure your child eats healthy in school but you’re not sure where to begin, don’t worry. We’ll provide you with a few ideas that you can work with for the next school day!
Replace Sugary Beverages with Healthy Beverages
These days, kids are consuming large amounts of calories, but most of these come from sugary treats and sweet beverages like soda drinks. To encourage your child to refrain from drinking soda, present them with a good alternative, like a small tetra pack of good ol’ dairy milk or one of the many varieties of grain- and nut-based milk. Unlike soda drinks, milk is chock-full of nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, protein, iodine, potassium, and B vitamins, while nut-based milk like almond milk are a great source of unsaturated fats, which helps protect your kid’s heart by keeping their bad cholesterol levels low.
Additionally, fruit and vegetable smoothies are also a great alternative to unhealthy drinks. Aside from their nutrient content, smoothies are also rich in fiber, which is good for digestion. Consider having your child drink a glass of smoothie as a pick-me-upper before going to school.
Replace Sugary Treats with Fruits for Dessert
Like everyone else, most kids also love eating something sweet after they finish up a hearty, savory meal. The occasional candies and cuts of chocolate bars are okay, but it’s not really great to give them to children for dessert after every meal.
Wean off your kid’s sweet tooth from unhealthy desserts by giving them delicious slices of fruits instead. Apples are a staple sweet treat, but there are many other fruits that can be easily enjoyed by kids. These include honeydew, mango, pear, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.
Hide Vegetables in Traditionally Meat Staples
Making kids eat their daily servings of fruits and vegetables can be tricky. For vegetables, in particular, you have to be a little bit more creative since they are not always the most palatable food items children enjoy.
While it’s not always ideal to trick your child into eating veggies by concealing them in other food items, sometimes, you just do what you have to do! As such, consider mincing veggies and mixing them with burger patties, meatballs, fritters, spring rolls, quesadillas, and other similar staples that are traditionally prepared with all-meat ingredients.
Serve Vegetables and Lentils as Delicious Side Dishes
A lot of times, school meals can be made much healthier by including side dishes that are jam-packed with wholesome vegetables and legumes. Think of crispy, colorful coleslaw with cabbage, carrots, onions, bell peppers, and herbs. Or how about salsa and other tomato-based dips, which are rich in phytochemicals called lycopene.
Other options include rich and flavorful dips like hummus and tzatziki, which are also very delicious. Hummus is a Levantine dip that is made with chickpeas, sesame seeds, and garlic, while tzatziki is a Greek and Turkish dip that is made with yogurt and mixed with cucumber and garlic. Both dips also contain olive oil, which is a good source of unsaturated fats.
Prioritize Lean Proteins and Whole Grains
While you want your child to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, you also don’t want them to miss out on the benefits of proteins and grains. Protein-rich foods like meat help build and repair children’s growing bodies, while grains are a great source of carbohydrates for energy.
To ensure that your child is getting the most out of the protein foods eat, prioritize lean protein sources such as turkey, skinless chicken, fish, beans, legumes, and lean red meat when preparing meals for school. When it comes to grains, you can maximize your child’s intake of whole grains by providing them whole grain pasta, rice, and cereals instead of the refined varieties.
Making sure that your child eats healthy doesn’t have to be the most difficult thing to do in the world. With simple planning and a little creativity, you will be able to provide your child with all the nutrients they for a productive day in school!