When your child walks out the door on the way to school, you might feel good about knowing that they’re going to get a hot meal from their school before the day is out. For many parents, bought school lunches are the best means to get good food into their children for the money. There’s nothing wrong with buying lunch, but there can be something wrong with relying on it to do the whole job. You want to add a little something special to school lunches so that your child can have both a few extra calories (essential for running around during PE or firing up their brains in the classroom; calories, when you’re putting them to work, are not the enemy) or so that they can have a specific type of nutrition reinforced is great. If you’re not sure what to put in their backpacks, or why, check out these common things that most people will hand out without knowing why.
This little bit of dairy has been a staple since it’s invention in prepackaged packets, but not that many people think about why it’s so good for your children. Yes, there’s the calcium, and yes, there are the raw calories, but there’s also the fact that it’s perfect for portion control. Your child can eat as much or as little of it as they want at various breaks and recesses, and the milk and calcium will boost their mental alertness each and every time.
A Bottle of Juice
Juice has a lot of sugar, so if you have a younger child you might want to water this down to half juice, half water. This is both for the sake of your child’s education, your child’s teacher’s patience, and your child’s teeth. All of these will be thanking you when your child doesn’t have a full dose of sugar before class. However, a partial dose of sugar can increase alertness, and the vitamins present in a fruit’s juice are essential to grow. Not to mention the fact that staying hydrated is often one of the best things that you can teach a child. This critical bit of self care is often overlooked in our society, where we rely only on “thirst” (As in, when you’re already dehydrated) to tell us when, what, and how much to drink.
A Piece of Fruit
In general, a piece of fruit is better than juice if your goal is to fill up a hungry child. The soluable fiber in a good piece of fruit will make things run more smoothly for them all day long, and can help quell certain distractions without them needing to ask for a lot of passes out of the classroom.
A Sweet Treat
Every now and then there’s nothing wrong with packing your child a treat. When you use them strategically, a good snack in their lunch could be a reward for getting a good grade on a test. While some people ascribe to the philosophy of never allowing their children to have anything processed or sugary, you can make healthier alternatives yourself that will still send them over the moon with happiness. Besides, even with rules against trading lunches there’s a good bet that a black market sweets shop is already set up. If you can’t beat them, at least give your child options.
A Green Smoothie
When packed in ice, a green smoothie can last all day and be the perfect thing to get your child going in the morning or restart their engine late in the afternoon. There’s simply not that much that can hold back a green smoothie powered kid. You can make these to taste by mixing fruit juice, actual fruit, and handfuls of dark leafy greens like spinach together in the blender. The result is a smooth drink that tastes like fruit but packs the punch of veggies. The surge of nutrients is enough to make everyone’s head spin.
If you’re finding that your child isn’t pacing themselves with their juice you can give them ice water instead. Fill a bottle two thirds of the way and then freeze it; in the morning, pack their frozen water bottle like an ice pack. Have them drink the melt water all day long, and they’ll stay hydrated the right way.