Best School Lunch, Ever!

As another school year rolls around, it’s time to think of how to pack a healthier, more appealing lunch. While breakfast is the most important meal of the day, a nutritious lunch helps kids focus and re-energizes their bodies.

Meritus Medical Center-employed nurses staff the health rooms for Washington County Public Schools. Kimberly Deutsch, RN, school nurse supervisor, cares for kids with stomachaches or headaches. “These conditions are often linked to kids either not eating meals or not eating healthy meals,” explains Kimberly. “Proper nutrition leads to healthier students and improved learning.”

A blueprint for better lunches

  • Involve your kids in the lunch-making process for better buy in.
  • Make a lunch date with your child and check out what’s being served in the school cafeteria. Are the veggies overcooked or is the fruit fresh?
  • Include at least one serving of fruit. Get creative and serve cubed fruit with yogurt.
  • Sneak in some veggies by garnishing sandwiches with spinach and grated carrots.
  • Pack yogurt or cheese cubes if your child isn’t a milk drinker.
  • Design your own pre-packaged lunch by purchasing segmented containers.
  • Look for pre-packaged packs of baby carrots, sugar snap peas, celery sticks, grapes and apple slices found in your produce section.
  • Make sure your youngster can open containers without any assistance. There’s nothing worse than a hungry kindergartener waiting for someone to open her applesauce.
  • Lunches to love
  • Your Health Matters scoured the internet for great lunch ideas so get out your shopping list; we’ve done the thinking for you.
  • Fresh tomatoes, cheese cubes and salami (pack the night before to mix the flavors)
  • Tortellini soup with chicken
  • Whole wheat wrap, spread with hummus and crumbled bacon, chopped tomatoes and romaine lettuce
  • Peanut butter on whole wheat wrap sprinkled with bacon and sliced bananas
  • Pita pocket lined with cream cheese and filled with turkey, spinach leaves and cucumber slices
  • Rotisserie chicken with thinly sliced carrots and barbeque sauce served on a whole grain bun
  • Pita pocket with thinly sliced roast beef, Swiss cheese and store-bought cole slaw
  • Strawberry and cream cheese sandwich

Super snacks

  • Chips and salsa or avocado and Greek yogurt
  • Graham crackers topped with low-fat cream cheese and sliced strawberries
  • Whole grain crackers topped with peanut butter and fruit (bananas, strawberries, kiwi)
  • Soft pretzels and mustard
  • Peanut butter and celery sticks
  • Air-popped popcorn with parmesan cheese
  • Low-fat cheese cubes and grapes
  • Whole grain bagels topped with cream cheese veggie spread

To start the academic year off right, clear your refrigerator of high-fat lunch meats like bologna, hot dogs and pepperoni. Ditch white bread, fried chips, pre-packaged cookies and cakes and save the fruit drinks, sports drinks and soda for special occasions.