Beyond Peanut Butter and Jelly – A Five Day Meal Plan

While peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are quick, easy, and get your child to school with food to eat for lunch, there are so many more options! Also, changing up your child’s lunch routine will also expand your child’s tastes and allow them to explore new foods that they may not have tried as well as learn healthy eating at a young age.

Are you ready to break the mold and start preparing your child for a full day of learning? Give your child the motivation with a healthy lunch that will not only be tasty but also good for them.

Along with wanting to send your kid to school with an above average lunch, you also may be forced to come up with alternatives to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as there is such a prevelance of peanut butter allergies among children. While it was less common in the past, over 3 million people have been diagnosed with peanut butter allergies today. So, not only will you be sending your child to school with a healthy lunch, you are also helping the staff and students that your child goes to school with, as they may have the allergy.

Healthy Lunch

Here is a 5 day meal plan that you an stick to so that your child has a healthy lunch every day of the school week:

Monday:

Sandwich: Turkey with avocado, lettuce, and cucumber on a whole grain roll or bread. Then pack this with a variety of fresh seasonal fruit in a zip lock bag.

Tuesday:

Sandwich: tuna fish with cherry tomatoes and cucumbers on while grain bread. Pair this with a bag of chips and an apple. The flavors will compliment each other and offer your child a variety of essential vitamins and nutrition.

Wednesday:

Sandwich: salad with cream cheese wrap on a spinach wrap. For a side, add a banana and a yogurt.

Thursday:

Sandwich: egg sandwich, made using hard boiled eggs, celery, and mayonnaise or hummus. Then add a few leaves of lettuce. From here, add an orange and some carrot sticks.

Friday:

Sandwich: on a whole grain roll, add grated Parmesan cheese, turkey, and lettuce. Pair this with chips and some watermelon bites (or any seasonal fruit).

Your child’s school lunches do not have to be the average peanut butter and jelly sandwich. As peanut butter is filled with sugar (depending on the type you use), it does not offer much in terms of nutrients to your child during the day. Studies show that kids that eat healthier often perform higher academically. While there is no specific evidence as to why this happens, it is most likely due to the fact that they are receiving the nutrients they need that not only allow them to feel full during the day but also make them feel good and therefore they can be attentive in the classroom.

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Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids

It's a daily chore, and one that's easy to get lazy with: packing your kid's lunch. Rather than viewing this as a monotonous task that results in a bored, nutritionally unsatisfied child, get creative! Healthy lunch ideas can be fun, tasty, and are limitless once you commit yourself to branching out and having fun with it.

Compartmentalized Trays

Ditch the ziplock sandwich, bag of chips and Twinkie dessert. Go to Walmart and invest in some tupperware that has compartmentalized sections, and go to town with your child's favorite healthy foods that include the nutrients you know he or she needs. Some ideas?

Protein

Many times kids don't want bread anyway, they'd prefer the meat on it. Take a serving of deli sliced turkey or chicken and shred it up into bite size pieces for your child to snack on. Another alternative is to prepare meat in advance at the start of the week, such a chicken, and to plop a serving of it in the container every night for the next day's meal.

Veggies and Dip

Chips and dip can be swapped out for veggies and dip. Dip can be made from nonfat Greek yogurt and a package of seasoning, and use veggies your child likes, for example carrots or broccoli or heirloom tomatoes.

Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids

Fruit

Your child will need some carbs to get through the rest of the school day, and what better way for him to get them by eating apple slices? Make it even more of a treat by plopping in a dollop of peanut butter for him to dip the apple in. It's a sweet treat, and the added protein is always a benefit.

Sweets

Don't skip out on the sweets! Find some dark chocolate or healthy alternative and throw it in the lunch container as a highlight to finish the tasty and nutritious lunch.

Healthy Fats

Everyone should be consuming an appropriate amount of healthy fats, but children especially need these fats as they're growing. A half a slice of avocado or a handful of almonds would be a perfect way to incorporate these healthy fats, and can be swapped in for one of the other previously listed foods to provide variety during the week.

Dairy

What child doesn't like cheese? And seeing that cheese provides a good amount of calcium, why withhold it from your child? Cheese cubes are another good swapping option for a few days a week, and will surely keep your child happy.

Leftovers

Don't overlook leftovers, especially if last night's dinner was a favorite of your child! If you had fajitas, incorporate some of that left over chicken. If you had turkey spaghetti, send along some sauce along with some whole grain noodles or Italian bread for dipping.

Lunches don't have to be boring or unhealthy! Send along leftovers, or fill compartmentalized trays with nutritional options that will keep your kid happy and healthy.

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