Building a Better School Lunch—Hot or Cold

Building a Better School Lunch—Hot or Cold

Many children have a wonderful time taking a break in the day with their school lunches. Some families prefer a hot lunch, some prefer cold lunch, and some do a combination depending on the hot lunch being served and if the child likes it or not.

With the costs of food going up, it is important to plan a lunch that children will actually eat at school, after all, the school lunches are moving toward three dollars per student.

Plan Ahead School Lunch with Your Child

Hopefully, you will have the opportunity to sit down with your child and discuss next week’s menu, selecting the best or most nutritious meals that they will eat. While some menus have added carbohydrates as a part of the menu, look for those days that are simple sandwiches, vegetables, salads, low fat or 1% milk, and a simple fruit for dessert. Children do not need as many calories at this time as we might think, instead really needing plenty of water and a chance to move around at recess.

Probably the only hot lunch menu that we do not recommend, are the ones that come directly from fast food restaurants. This practice may solve the lunch problem for the school but sets up a bad precedence for children who need a better lunch.

Some of my favorite entrees that kids tend to like are:

  • roast beef sandwiches, pickles, and corn
  • macaroni and cheese, green salad, and fresh fruit
  • real tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich

Children have very sensitive systems for digestion and absorption of food. It is important to realize that the school day is not the time, if ever, to serve them fatty, salty, or sugary foods that will take the afternoon to digest.

Preparing School Lunch

While preparing dinners, think also about what you could send for a cold lunch the next day. Cut up vegetables and make sandwiches the night before.

One word of advice is: try not to have the entire lunch be pre-packaged foods from the pantry. Freshly prepared by you will be much better and appreciated by your child. And, always add an ice pack to keep things cool and food safe.

Whatever your choice may be, keep in mind that this is day of work for children too; and not a social event or party. Therefore, we need just enough, or 300 calories, to get through the day and plenty of fluids.

For any questions, please contact our certified dietitian or nutrition specialists at any of the Elite Sports Clubs locations.

Schedule a Nutrition Consultation

By Rita Larsen, RDN; Elite Sports Clubs Nutrition Educator & Diet Counselor

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