Kiddos need a lot of nutrition! When we think about what they’re eating, we hardly think about the nutrients, specifically the vitamins and minerals, that make up the food that they eat. But, nutrients are the literal building blocks of our body. They are what keep our systems running day in and day out.
Why does nutrition matter?
Nutrients perform hundreds of roles in the body; they help us build muscle, build strong bones, heal wounds (and we all know that kids need all the help they can get in that department!), boost our immune system, release energy, keep our electrolytes in check, and much, much more.
Protein, vegetables, and fruits are the most nutrient dense foods available. These foods pack the most “bang for your buck” in terms of providing the essential vitamins and minerals that growing bodies need to function, and thrive.
When we don’t get the proper nutrients we need, we run low on energy, get cranky, are restless, or sometimes worse – major health issues can arise from not getting the proper nutrients we need.
A study from the Journal of Nutrition says that, “More than half of American children do not get enough of vitamins D and E, while more than a quarter do not get enough calcium, magnesium or vitamin A. This can result in a compromised immune system, stunted physical growth, reduced mental ability, chronic disease and even death.”
When packing our kids’ lunches, look for the most nutrient-dense foods, and base the main part of their lunches around a protein source, vegetables, and fruits.
Give them water to drink; water is going to give them the hydration they need, and will help their cells to function properly… so save your money and skip the juices, or gatorade.
Here are some nutritious food options for lunches:
- Deli meat and cheese roll-ups
- Salami (look for cured meats that don’t contain nitrates) and cheese
- Homemade tuna salad – try tuna, cashews, raisins, spices, and homemade mayo (recipe)
- Homemade chicken salad – try chicken, raisins, cashews/pecans, spices, and homemade mayo
- Egg “muffins”– try this recipe
- Cheese slices/cubes/string cheese
- Cottage cheese
- Hardboiled egg/soft boiled egg
- Shredded chicken
- Pulled pork
- Unsweetened yogurt or yogurt with honey
- Carrots with hummus
- Steamed broccoli
- Green beans
- Zoodles (spiraled carrots, zucchini, turnip, or sweet potato)
- Sweet potatoes
- Kale chips
- Brussels sprouts
- Apples (slices, applesauce, or try apple chips)
- Frozen fruit (put it in their lunchbox frozen, and by lunch it will have thawed)
- Orange slices
Other yummy items:
- Homemade trail mix – try pecans, raisins, mini pretzels, mini chocolate chips, and unsweetened banana chips)
- Homemade muffins (recipe)
- Frozen peas
- Soup in a thermos
- Veggie Straws
What nutritious foods do you like to pack in your kid’s lunchbox?