Food

Healthy Lunch Ideas

If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, lunch is a close second. It’s that little mid-day pick me up that gives us a push to get through the rest of the day. To help your little one run on clean fuel, you need to feed them a healthy balanced meal. Check out some of these meals to keep it interesting.

According to chosemyplate.gov, a meal should consist of a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy. This helpful infographic is a great planning tool.

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Vegetables:

Raw, cooked, fresh or frozen, however you want to prepare them, vegetables should account for almost half of your child’s meal. Children 2-3 years old should eat at least one cup of vegetables a day, and 4-8-year-olds should eat one and a half cups per day. Girls between the ages of nine and 13 need to eat two cups per day, and boys of the same age should eat two and a half.

Grains:

The second largest part of your child’s meal should be grains, and not just any grains, but preferably whole grains. At least half of all grains consumed should actually be whole grains. When you prepare the meal, keep in mind your child should eat roughly three ounces of grains a day between the ages of two and three, and about five ounces between four and eight. Little girls between nine and 13 should also eat about five ounces a day while little boys at the same age should aim for six ounces per day.

Fruit:

Nature’s candy, aka fruit, combined with vegetables should make up about half of your child’s daily meals. Children between two and three-years-old should eat at least one cup of fruit per day, while little ones between four and eight should eat about one to one and a half cups. Girls and boys between nine and 13 should eat one and a half cups per day.

Protein:

Whether it’s animal or plant-based, protein is an essential part of everyone’s diet. The key to protein is to get it from a variety of sources. Between the ages of two and three, kids need about two ounces of protein a day. Children ages four through eight need at least four ounces per day. Girls and boys aged nine through 13 should eat five ounces of protein per day.

Dairy:

The United States Department of Agriculture recommends daily consumption of dairy products. To meet daily requirements, children between two and three-years-old should drink or eat about two cups of dairy per day, children between four and eight-years-old should have two and a half cups per day and, children between nine and 13-years-old should have three cups per day.

Great meals:

Turkey, lettuce and mustard pinwheels on whole-grain tortillas, veggie chips, banana, and string cheese.

Whole-wheat crackers (such as Triscuit) with sliced cheese and lunchmeat, mixed berries, carrots and low fat ranch dressing.

Steamed asparagus, peanut butter and apple slices, whole grain waffle, and whole milk.

Whole wheat banana muffins, low-fat chocolate milk, edamame.

Grilled chicken with lettuce and mayo on a whole-wheat bun, and grapes.

Whole-wheat tortilla with peanut butter spread and sliced banana inside, cucumbers, and yogurt.

Brown Spanish rice with ground beef and mixed veggies (carrots and peas), whole grain tortilla chips, strawberries, and yogurt.

Tuna-fish sandwich on whole-wheat bread, celery and peanut butter, a fruit cup, and yogurt.

Fruit skewers, sliced turkey and cucumber with cheese on whole-wheat bread, string-cheese.

Brown sugar and cinnamon oatmeal, raisins, broccoli, trail-mix, and milk.

Slice of meatloaf on a whole-wheat roll, applesauce, salad, and string cheese.

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