5 Mistakes Parents Make Packing Lunch for Kids – 80 Twenty Nutrition

5 Mistakes Parents Make Packing Lunch for Kids

All parents deserve medals for doing their best to pack healthy lunches for their kids. Despite all of your hard work in the kitchen, there may be some areas you can improve this school year to make sure your kids get the energy and nutrients they need. Here are my top 5 mistakes parents make packing lunch for kids and how to fix them.

 5 Mistakes Parents Make Packing Lunch for Kids:

Mistakes Parents Make Packing Lunch for Kids - How to make a healthy lunch for kids - school lunch ideas - Christy Brissette media dietitian 80 Twenty Nutrition Toronto and Los Angeles1. Not including enough snacks

 
Kids need constant energy throughout the day which means they need some quick options they can snack on after a morning sports practice, at recess, after school or if they don’t want to sit and eat at lunch. Many kids have a fear of missing out (FOMO) because lunch is social time to play games and sports, so they will eat quickly to go be with their friends.
Parents notice that kids eat their snacks first because they’re more convenient for busy kids than sitting down to some pasta or something that requires assembly. Pack extra snacks that are shelf-stable like fruit, seeds and roasted chickpeas that can be send home uneaten without going to waste.

Mistakes Parents Make Packing Lunch for Kids - How to make a healthy lunch for kids - school lunch ideas - Christy Brissette media dietitian 80 Twenty Nutrition Toronto and Los Angeles
Photo credit: Cole Henley via Flickr.

2. Choosing less healthy snacks

Knowing that kids often reach for snacks first, pack foods that are rich in protein, fiber and healthy fats for lasting energy such as:
–  Pumpkin seed butter or sunflower seed butter on whole grain crackers
–  Hummus with baby carrots, sugar snap peas, celery sticks and cherry tomatoes
– Cheese and apple slices
– Yogurt with berries and nut-free granola
– Kefir or yogurt drinks with real fruit and no added sugar
– Homemade snack mix with whole grain, low sugar cereal, crispy roasted chickpeas and dried fruit
– Popcorn with sunflower seeds or soy nuts
Chia pudding (store bought or homemade)
– Quinoa or lentil crisps

3. Making healthy food boring

Are you throwing some soggy carrots in a bag and feeling defeated when your kids send them home each day? I don’t blame them! Make the healthy options fun and kids are more likely to eat them. This is a common mistake parents make when packing kids lunches: the less healthy treats are packed in an appealing way and the healthy options aren’t!
Let your kids pick out a fun bento box, water bottle and lunch bag. Make their lunches colorful and take a page from the food company’s book. Remember Lunchables? Save money and make a healthier version by getting nitrate-free turkey slices, cheese, grapes, cherry tomatoes with Greek yogurt or bean dip and whole grain crackers such as brown rice crackers and put them into different sections of the bento box. The more colors, shapes and textures you can incorporate, the better. We eat with our eyes, and kids are no exception!

Mistakes Parents Make Packing Lunch for Kids - How to make a healthy lunch for kids - school lunch ideas - Christy Brissette media dietitian 80 Twenty Nutrition Toronto and Los Angeles
Photo credit: USDA via Flickr.

4. Not thinking about food safety.

If your child leaves for school at 8 am and doesn’t have lunch until noon, that’s long enough for something like tuna and mayo to grow bacteria that could make your child sick. Add a sealed container or baggy of frozen fruit to keep food colder longer. Then kids can add the fruit to their yogurt or water bottles for some extra nutrition and flavor!

5. Leaving kids out of making lunch

Get your kids involved in making their lunches. Research shows this is an important strategy to help them eat healthier. That way they’re more invested in eating their creations and they get to pick what they want for lunch. This means they’re also less likely to trade away the food they’ve picked and packed for their lunch.
Create a lunch-making cheat sheet and keep it on the fridge. Grab a piece of paper and make a chart with 5 columns: protein, carbohydrates, veggies, fruit and milk or milk alternatives. With your kids, make a list of all of the different options they could choose in each category. Let them know that when they’re packing their lunch, it needs to have something from each of the categories. Check out my printable healthy lunch-building list to get you started!
Christy Brissette media dietitian 80 Twenty Nutrition

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