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Planning Healthy Lunches for Kids and Adults

Fun and Healthy Lunch

Fun and Healthy Lunch

As the new school year approaches, so does the anticipation of purchasing back-to-school standards such as new sneakers, backpacks, pencils and reams of paper.

While you’re choosing back-to-school supplies for your young scholars, consider also investing in some quality lunch equipment.

Nowadays, the options are colorful, cool and fun. Let your kids choose a lunchbox, insulated lunch bag or even plain brown bags they can decorate with stickers, stamps or markers. Buy colorful plastic wrap, zip-lock bags for little fingers and easy to use, snap-top reusable plastic containers.

Also, plan ahead to ensure the lunches you send along with your children (or loved ones) are healthy and tasty. Although it may be tempting to consider pre-packaged lunches, remember they are expensive and loaded with fat, sodium and preservatives.

 Healthy Lunches

With some advanced scheduling and the involvement of your child(ren), preparing healthy and tasty lunches is not too difficult.

Involve your children by communicating with them about foods they do and do not like to eat. Also, if you allow children to help shop for and prepare foods they like, they will be more likely to eat what’s packed and sent to school with them.

 Calorie Requirements

An average 10-year old child requires about 2,000 calories per day, so three meals of about 500 calories each plus two snacks of 250 calories each spread throughout the day will fulfill their energy needs.

 Healthy Choices

Purchase foods with zero grams of trans-fat and limited amounts of saturated fat. Limit foods with processed sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup.

Take the rainbow approach to eating by incorporating three natural colors in each meal: red apples, orange carrots and green spinach, for example.

To switch up the traditional white bread sandwich, burrito-roll a flavored low fat tortilla wrap filled with lean protein, salad or veggies and cut them into rounds. For younger children consider cracker sandwiches, such as whole-grain crackers filled with cream cheese or peanut butter and jelly. Or make a traditional sandwich and use cookie cutters to give them a little pizzaz!

For additional vitamins and nutrients, send bite sized vegetable sticks with low-fat dip or dressing.

To keep drinks cool, freeze a container of milk or a 100% fruit juice box the night before and wrap in a paper towel to absorb moisture. Yogurt can also be frozen this way.

For desserts, consider prepared gelatin, low-fat pudding, oatmeal raisin cookies, ginger snaps, whole wheat and regular graham crackers and fresh fruit for a sweet and healthy ending. Tossing in a personal note or sticker can give the meal even more meaning.

Remember to check your child’s school to make sure there aren’t any restrictions on what they can bring to school.

 Food Safety

Be cautious about food safety. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Wipe and wash out the lunch box each night. Pack towelettes for children to clean their hands before and after eating.

 Cafeteria Dining

If your child prefers eating in the school cafeteria, help out with healthy meal selections.

The School Board of Brevard County offers a wide variety of nutritionally-balanced meals. A registered dietitian plans menus and ensures that meals meet the nutrient standards established by the United States Department of Agriculture, online at

Local school menus feature fresh fruits and vegetables, different salad varieties, and whole grain bread products.

In addition, schools are striving to offer healthier individual selections. Baked chips, for example, have replaced “deep-fat” fried French fries. Portion sizes for these items are also being reduced and healthy choices are being offered on a daily basis.

If your child attends Brevard County Schools, visit the district online at and click on Food Menus to find menus and nutritional content of available foods.

Packing healthy lunches can be a routine that the whole family enjoys. And, it’s an investment well worth the time (and savings) to make for everyone’s health!

 Brain Foods for Healthy Lunches

Avocados, Bananas, Lean Beef, Broccoli, Brown Rice, Cantaloupe, Cheese, Chicken, Eggs (hard boiled), Legumes, Milk or Soymilk, Nuts and Seeds, Oranges, Peanut Butter, Peas, Romaine Lettuce, Salmon, Soybeans – which contain choline, an ingredient that stimulates electrical impulses passing between brain cells – Spinach, Sweet Cherries, Tuna, Turkey, Wheat Germ and Yogurt.

The best fruits for “brain boosting” are blueberries and strawberries, loaded with the antioxidant anthocyanin, which affords the brain a greater ability to send and receive messages.

To learn more about nutrition or to make an appointment today, find us at

Source: Lana M. Saal, M.S., Manager of the Wellness Program for Brevard County Public School’s 10,000 employees.