It’s that time of year again! A magical time of the year when young children ranging in all ages head back to school to learn! Summertime is over and families are slowly getting back into the routine of school. Most children eat lunch at school in the cafeteria. Some of the students bring food from home and other students eat meals prepared at their respective high school. In order for kids to grow up healthy and strong, it is important that they eat 3 square meals every single day. As a parent, the toughest meal to control what is eaten for your children is lunch because it is the meal most often spent apart from your children. Children need the proper rest and fuel to help their bodies grow. And if you are like most south Texas families, we value the safety and well-being of our children and loved ones. So, now that we are heading back to school, here are some pointers when packing the perfect, nutritious lunch!
According to Healthychildren.org, an organization put in place to help inquiring parents about child eating habits, it is important that every child gets the appropriate amount of food from all five major food groups. The five main food groups discussed on the website are:
- Vegetables – 3-5 servings per day. A serving may consist of 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables, 3/4 cup of vegetable juice, or 1/2 cup of other vegetables, chopped raw or cooked.
- Fruits – 2-4 servings per day. A serving may consist of 1/2 cup of sliced fruit, 3/4 cup of fruit juice, or a medium-size whole fruit, like an apple, banana, or pear.
- Bread/Cereal/Pasta – 6-11 servings per day. Each serving should equal 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup of rice or pasta, or 1 ounce of cereal.
- Protein – 2-3 servings of 2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish per day. A serving in this group may also consist of 1/2 cup of cooked dry beans, one egg, or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter for each ounce of lean meat.
- Dairy – 2-3 servings per day of 1 cup of low-fat milk or yogurt, or 1 1/2 ounces of natural cheese. Depending on the child’s size, individual serving sizes will vary.
The best pointer I can give is to send your children to school with a packed lunch, made at home, as often as you can. Controlling what your child goes to school with is half the battle. If you can send your child to school with a healthy lunch 3 days out of the week, your child will be ahead of the curve. Just like my pappy used to tell me: ‘everything is ok in moderation.’