Tips For Creating Healthy And Tasty Lunches For Children

By Lynette Laufenberg

Making sure that your carefully prepared lunch doesn’t get ignored or ditched in the trash can be a tricky feat. Here’s how to avoid those expensive, high-fat, pre-made lunches, and give your kid a meal that will make him or her the envy of the cafeteria.

1. Get input from your children about what they want. They’ll be more likely to eat what they choose (except, of course, nutritional zeros like chips and soda).

2. Prep lunches with leftovers from dinner the night before. You’ll be more creative and less frazzled in the evening. Save some chicken breast for salad with red grapes and celery, a slice of meatloaf for a sandwich or cooked vegetables for pasta salad with Italian dressing.

3. Strive for balance. Healthy lunches should have a complex carbohydrate such as whole-grain bread or pita, a source of protein (peanut butter is fine), at least one serving of fruit or vegetables and one source of dairy (string cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese or milk).

4. Get creative: Use cookie cutters to carve sandwiches into fun shapes or include the fixings for “ants on a log” (peanut butter or cream cheese and raisins on celery).

5. Sneak in fresh vegetables and fruits. While your child may leave a whole apple untouched, she may love diced apples in her chicken salad sandwich.

6. Cultivate adventurous eating. Introduce new foods gradually, pairing them with your child’s favorite snacks. For example, if he loves carrots with ranch dressing, slip in some cucumber and zucchini slices. Be persistent! Children may not accept the new food initially, but after several times offering the same thing over the course of a few months, they may surprise you.

7. Indulge in desserts, but don’t go overboard. Oatmeal raisin cookies pack a nutritious punch, and puddings and Jell-O come in low-sugar and low-fat varieties. You don’t want to deprive your children, but you also don’t want them to be high-wired on sugar or falling asleep in class from a heavy, rich treat. Offer this as part of their lunch once or twice a week, not daily.

Here are a few extra tips:

• At the beginning of the week, boil a dozen eggs to use in egg salad, tuna salad or as a late afternoon snack.

• Wrap a frozen juice or drink container with a paper towel to keep the condensation from getting the rest of the lunch moist — your child can then use the damp paper towel to clean sticky fingers and faces.

• Don’t get stuck in a rut: If your child ignores her sandwiches, try stacking cheese and salami on wholegrain crackers instead; swap the peanut butter and jelly for pita with hummus or cinnamon-raisin bagels with cream cheese and jelly.

• Add a favorite healthy snack, such as grapes, granola bars, trail mix or string cheese, for an afternoon pick-me-up.

We all know that having healthy eating habits is very crucial for our children’s growth, but having some kind of physical activity on a regular basis is also important. There are so many options out there to get children active.

Ultima Fitness offers a Tae Kwon Do program targeted for both children and adults all year long. The Xtreme Tae Kwon Do program will strengthen both the mind and body. Parents have seen their children focus better and achieve success in academic studies. Adults are more confident and feel better about themselves with increased energy and concentration. In Tae Kwon Do, students learn to respect life through mental, physical and philosophical studies. For more information, visit

Lynette Laufenberg, a certified personal trainer, is program/fitness director at Ultima Fitness/Xtreme Tae Kwon Do. Ultima is located at 12799 W. Forest Hill Blvd. in Wellington. For more info., call (561) 795-2823 or visit