Across the country, kids are lamenting the end of summer and the beginning of another school year. If you are a work- or stay-at-home parent like me, you are sad that another summer quickly passed, but are breathing a sigh of relief that the little ones are back in school! Going back to school involves new clothes, fall sporting equipment and practices, homework, and the ubiquitous “healthy lunch” that all of us parents try to pack for our little ones. While every parent’s definition of a healthy lunch may be different, we all have good intentions; especially if we keep our kids out of the cafeteria food line! Have you looked at what they serve there? That’s another blog post entirely, so I will save that soapbox for another day. However, how many of us neglect our own lunches? We make sure our kids are sent to school with healthy choices, but what about what YOU eat? Do you even put any thought into your lunch? Here is an easy checklist of what you can include in your own lunch to make sure you eat as healthy as your kids. After all, raising healthy children is a classic example of “monkey see, monkey do” and you want to set a good example that nutritious meals are for everyone, not just those members of the family that lug around backpacks and super hero lunch boxes!
Parents’ Healthy Back-To-School Lunch Checklist
- Sandwich on whole-grain bread:
- Low-fat, lower-sodium lunch meat – 2-3 oz.
- Slice of cheese (regular will do; don’t go low-fat here – have the real stuff)
- Low-fat mayo or other condiments (check your condiments for added sugar; you will be amazed how many of our favorites have unnecessary calories from sugar added)
- Small handful of dark greens like romaine, baby spinach, etc.
- Two slices of whole-grain bread or one 10” whole-wheat tortilla for a wrap
- Hard, high-fiber fruit like an apple, pear, peach, nectarine, or plum
- Small salad with those same dark greens you put on your sandwich (plus other veggies of your choosing), toss in 2-3 tsp of olive oil or olive oil-based dressing
- Two squares of really good dark chocolate (you sneak a treat in your kid’s lunch, why not for you, too. And don’t waste calories on bad chocolate; get the good stuff, eat less of it, and enjoy!)
How hard was that? You can make this while you are making your kid’s lunch. This takes less time than going through a drive-thru or enduring another lunch with the co-worker you can’t stand, but always invites himself to lunch anyway.
Put yourself on the back-to-school train and make a healthy lunch part of your daily routine. Keep this up and you will definitely get an ‘A’ in health this first term!