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Geisinger offers tips for packing healthy lunches

Oct. 10, 2013      Michael Ferlazzo: 570-214-7410

October 13-19 is national school lunch week

DANVILLE, Pa. – Packing lunches for your children to take to school?  A little variety can go a long way in helping to keep kids healthy and giving them something a little more appealing than a standard peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“When packing lunches for your child, try to remember the different food groups,” said Allison Lamma, registered dietitian, Geisinger Medical Center. “Look for the whole grain, the protein, the fruits and vegetables and the dairy among the items from which you have to choose.”

Lamma suggests a turkey and cheese sandwich on whole grain bread as an easy way to incorporate many of the food groups together—grains, protein and dairy. He/she added that incorporating snack bags of sliced apples or grapes and baby carrots or cucumber slices can help achieve a balanced and nutritious lunch.

Lamma also recommends some basic tips for healthy “brown bag” lunches:

  • Choose whole-grain breads such as wheat or rye
  • Aim for at least two servings of fruits and vegetables
  • Choose a low-fat meat for sandwiches, like turkey
  • Limit fatty condiments, such as mayonnaise, butter or creamy dressings
  • Avoid fried chips; rather, choose the baked varieties
  • Pack bottled water instead of sweet drinks like soda or juice
  • Stock up on a variety of healthy ingredients so making a healthy lunch is quick and easy
  • Another tip for parents (and adults even) is to make something bigger on a Sunday night, like a roasted chicken, and then use that for leftovers over the next 3 days or so – sandwiches, chicken soup, salads, etc. It makes planning lunches more manageable, healthier and quicker.
  • If the lunch will be unrefrigerated for more than two hours, use an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack.

“Getting your child to eat the healthy lunch is the next hurdle,” said Lamma. “Recruit your kids to help prepare their lunches. They may be more inclined to eat it if they were involved in the packing.”