Lunch Box Ideas for Happy, Healthy Kids
Hey Guys! Kai here from Generation Kai! Now that we are back to school, I wanted to take some time to give you some tips for making healthy lunches.
I know it is hard taking time in the morning to make a healthy lunch, and I know how easy it is just to buy prepackaged items to throw together each day. But I want to challenge you to read the labels of the food you are throwing together in your lunch each day. Notice how those items are loaded with chemicals and preservatives and very little nutrition.
We try to build our lunch with four key items, a super healthy clean protein, a fresh fruit, a fresh vegetable and some type of healthy chip. Here is a brief “Eat This, Not That” list:
- When it comes to a healthy clean protein consider this: Instead of making a sandwich with white or wheat bread, consider using toasted Ezekiel bread.
- Instead of using peanut butter and jelly, consider almond butter and St. Daflfour jelly, which is a super clean, no sugar-added jelly. Or sunflower butter made from sunflower seeds and slices of banana with honey.
- Instead of fruit roll-ups, fruit gummies or fruit cups swimming in sugar water, consider adding a fresh fruit to each lunch. Fresh fruit is easy as long as it is at your fingertips and pre-cleaned. We usually go shopping once a week and buy everything we need for the upcoming week, no more and no less. Examples of fresh fruit we like to use include strawberries, apples, oranges, bananas, mangoes and grapes.
- Instead of snack bars or even candy, which I actually see quite often in school lunches, consider a serving of fresh vegetables. Vegetables are super important for us and are easy to prepare ahead of time or the morning of. Fresh veggies we like to use include sliced English cucumbers, celery, carrots, small sweet peppers and grape tomatoes. Many of these go well with hummus or some type of nut butter so you can include a small amount of that as a dip. Another veggie we like to include in our lunch is cucumber, tomato, and garbanzo bean salad with a little olive oil and sea salt. Whenever we make it for dinner, we make a little extra to have for our lunch the next day. We love it!
- When it comes to the crunchy/salty part of the meal, instead of eating things like Doritos, Cheetos or Takis, which are loaded with chemicals and preservatives, we like to use organic, non-GMO blue and yellow corn chips, spelt pretzels, super clean potato chips with only three ingredients and veggie chips — you know the ones made out of sweet potatoes and turnips.
- If you have to buy school-made lunches, there are some simple things you can do to make them a bit healthier. I know at my school they give you the option of fresh fruit over a sugary snack. Always take the fresh fruit and then eat it. Many kids take the fruit, but it ends up in the garbage. Many schools also offer a salad bar option. Consider getting salad a couple times a week to avoid the French fries and pizza options every day.
I hope this helped in your quest for healthier lunches while at school. Rule of thumb, read the ingredients instead of the nutritional facts on everything you buy. If it has more than eight ingredients, it doesn’t belong in your body. As much as possible, think fresh instead of pre-packaged. Here is to a great school year for all. Good luck!
Article by Kai Nunziato-Cruz, a 12-year-old nutrition expert from Arizona. As the son of Dr. Liz Cruz, a board-certified gastroenterologist, and Tina Nunziato, a certified holistic nutrition consultant, Kai has watched his Moms for years help adults get well and stay well and felt it was his mission to take those same teachings to kids. Kai is the author of Digest This Now! for Kids a kid-friendly, doctor-approved book about healthy eating and he also teaches through his YouTube show Generation Kai.