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Checklist: How to Pack a Healthy Lunch for Your Child
Need inspiration for what to pack in a healthy lunch? Use this checklist and packaging tips to make sure your child is getting the nutrition they need.


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Send your child off with a smile and a healthy lunch.


This approach will offer your child plenty of healthy choices at lunchtime and one that you can be confident with as a healthy alternative to normal school-serve lunches.”
Packing a healthy lunchbox is simple when you include each MyPlate food group, including vegetables, fruits, proteins, whole grains and dairy. This approach will offer your child plenty of healthy choices at lunchtime and one that you can be confident with as a healthy alternative to normal school-serve lunches.

Researchers, during the 2006-2007 school year, studied 4,870 eighth-graders in 40 states and found schools that did not exceed the standard nutritional standards were two times more likely to be obese compared to those in schools where a healthy alternative was served. It was concluded that stricter national standards were effective in controlling weight gain in young children.

With that said, here are some "lunch box safe" suggestions for each of these MyPlate (the new government recommended nutritional guidelines) food groups and simple packaging tips that will keep your child’s lunch fresh and full of flavor.

Healthy Lunch = Vegetable + Protein + Whole Grain + Fruit + Dairy

Vegetables
* Baby Carrots
* Broccoli florets
* Cauliflower florets
* Celery
* Cherry or grape tomatoes
* Cucumber slices
* Edamame
* Green beans
* Jicama Slices
* Lettuce
* Mushrooms
* Red, yellow or green pepper slices
* Spinach
* Sugar snap peas

Preparation – Packing
1. Wash vegetables under cold water
2. Add a dipping sauce such as hummus or Ranch dressing
3. Add vegetable slices to a sandwich
4. Keep vegetables cool

Fruits
* Apples
* Applesauce
* Apricots
* Blueberries
* Cherries
* Dates
* Grapes
* Kiwi
* Mango
* Melon
* Nectarines
* Oranges
* Papaya
* Peaches

Preparation – Packing
1. Select fresh, dried or packaged fruits
2. Choose canned or packaged fruits with no sugar or syrup added
3. Wash fruits with cold water
4. Most kids like cut fruit instead of whole fruit
5. Keep fruits cool

Proteins
* Chicken salad
* Ham
* Hard-boiled eggs
* Hummus
* Nut butters (peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower)
* Refried beans
* Roast beef
* Sliced chicken
* Sliced pork
* Smoked salmon
* Tofu cubes
* Tuna Salad
* Turkey
* White or black bean dip

Preparation - Packing
1. Slice leftover meats from dinner for sandwiches
2. Roll up meats around a vegetable stick
3. Make sandwiches the night before and refrigerate or freeze them

Grains
* Boston Brown Bread
* Brown rice cakes
* Cinnamon Raisin bread
* Graham crackers
* Granola
* Multi-grain bun or roll
* Oatmeal – raisin cookies
* Popcorn (air-popped)
* Wheat flour tortillas
* Whole grain crackers
* Whole grain pasta salad
* Whole wheat English muffin
* Whole wheat pita
* Whole wheat pretzels

Preparation - Packing
1. Use whole grain breads instead of white sandwich bread
2. Try a tortilla wrap or flatbread to make a sandwich
3. Mix it up!

Dairy
* Cheese slices, sticks or cubes
* Cottage cheese
* Cream cheese
* Goat cheese
* Milk
* Smoothies
* Sour cream
* Yogurt

Preparation - Packing
1. Choose low-fat or skim milk products
2. Milk can be purchased at school at a very low cost. This is your child’s best bet to be sure the milk is kept cold.

Cheryl Tallman is the founder of Fresh Baby (www.FreshBaby.com). For more than 10 years, Fresh Baby helped has helped parents foster their children’s healthy eating habits and proactively respond to the childhood obesity epidemic that plagues our nation. Cheryl is the author and designer of the company’s award-winning cookbooks and nutrition education products that support many stages of family life including: pregnancy, breastfeeding, introducing solid foods, and feeding toddlers, preschoolers and school-aged children.


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