Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Top Healthy Foods (and Not So Healthy Foods) Found In the Lunchbox

Given the new unpopularity of the uber-healthy school lunches served at the local public elementary and high school, my boys now bring their lunch from home. Our new norm is the lunchbox or brown bag lunch if you're in high school. I've been easing into my new role as lunch lady and have tried to pack hearty, but healthy lunches for my boys. I've done a bit of researching around to find out what is healthy and what's not. I've discovered its pretty much a no-brainer. The key is getting foods that the kids will actually eat that aren't loaded down with preservatives. That rules out garbanzo beans as well as Twinkies.

Here's my list of what works for packing a healthy daily lunch. A few unhealthy choices do work their way into the lunch box:

Christianna's Healthy, Hearty & Edible Lunch Choices:

  • Yogurt: My go-to probiotic that keeps the digestive system healthy. Plain or Greek Yogurt will do. Sorry but Go-Gurt doesn't count as healthy.
  • Blueberries: A favorite antioxidant that is heart healthy and a proven cancer fighter.
  • Peanut butter sandwiches on whole grain bread: Okay, maybe the bread is not completely 100% whole grain, but it's not white Wonder bread either. Luckily my kids have no peanut allergies and can safely eat this legume packed with proteins, vitamins, magnesium, and dietary fiber. You just cannot go wrong with the old peanut butter sandwich standby.
  • Raw carrots and broccoli without ranch dressing on the side: As recommended in the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, raw veggies are great for growing kids.
  • Cheese: Maybe it's because I'm from Wisconsin, but cheese is in every lunch I pack for my kids. It's packed with protein and a "good for you" dairy product, but for some reason no longer served in lunchrooms in my school district. Do they know something I don't know about cheese?

Christianna's Incredibly Unhealthy (But Very Delicious and Popular) Lunch Choices:

  • Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips: Just bad for you I know but they taste so good. Pure preservative-loaded filler for the kid's lunch.
  • Pretzels: Loaded down with salt but probably slightly better for the kids than potato chips.
  • Soda pop: Let me be clear on this one—only as a special treat a few times a year! I know how horrible pop is with all of the corn syrup, water, artificial color and flavor. I've given it up completely but for field trips, a can of Crush or Root Beer may find its way into the brown bag.
  • Double-Stuff Oreos: So bad for you, but so delicious! More preservative and sugar-loaded treats that will make kids obese. Sure if you ate a package of these everyday, you would be fat. Again only a couple are included with lunch, and I don't believe that dessert is ever truly healthy. Double-Stuff Oreos prove that. Plus I have to get these things out of the kitchen or else I will eat them all!


Diane - It's All Good Until You Burn Dinner said...

Peanut butter sandwich? Check. Cheese Stick? Check. Fresh fruit? Check. Hostess Cupcake with pretend chocolate flavoring and mystery fluff? Check.

I'm still working on the banana thing. How do you send a banana in a bag lunch without having to bubble wrap it and pack it inside of a fire safe to keep it from bruising?

Anonymous said...

I think you need to question the lunch eater on what healthy means. Sorry to say it is not that lunches are becoming healthy. They are serving the same bad food but in smaller quantities in order to comply with the new idea from Michelle - which by the way I think is great. However, I do think the school authorities need to work with the food supplier, offering proper old-fashioned "healthy" lunches to our children instead of what they are doing - giving four corndogs instead of 8. Please give the parents a bit of brain gumption!

I think many of us know what is healthy food. School lunches have never been healthy in my mind and THEY ARE DEFINITELY NOT DOING IT NOW. Don't blame the government - blame the school hierarchy who have no idea how to work proactively rather than reactively. I for one will be a happy mum making home lunch if my kids feel that this Centennial "healthy" (as you call it) lunch keeps coming at them.

I would be happy to come in and show them how to cook some healthy hearty food!! I have even tried to go down this road before—try and question the school system!!!

Christianna said...

Good point! Since we are stuck with these new "healthy" lunches that really don't taste good and still aren't terribly healthy, maybe switching suppliers of the food is an idea. That does mean the hassle of dealing with school administration.

There must be a better solution than the kids tossing all of this expensive food into the trash. I see today they are serving these kid friendly foods: garbanzo beans and brown rice along with brussel sprouts. Yum! Ummm, NOT!

ToshikoNgos said...

I think that's a good move by you.Giving your children healthy food stuff is really a god thing..