Dietitian provides healthy school lunch ideas

A local dietitian says a healthy school lunch is crucial for a successful school day of learning.
A local dietitian says a healthy school lunch is crucial for a successful school day of learning.(WHSV)
Published: Aug. 19, 2019 at 5:33 AM EDT
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To start the day, kids should be eating a well-balanced breakfast filled with fruits and protein.

"Especially coming back to school after the summer, a lot of kids are sleeping in later, so now they're going to have to get up early. They kind of need some fuel to get going for their day," said Holly Van Poots, a registered dietitian in Harrisonburg.

Next, check with your child's school to see when their scheduled lunch is to plan snacks and meals accordingly.

"If you have a child that is not a big breakfast eater, maybe they can eat something that is small for a snack, maybe drink something like a smoothie or eat a cup of yogurt. If their lunch is earlier in the day, you have to worry less. If it's later in the day, maybe pack something in their lunch bag that they could eat as a quick snack in between classes so that they're not going all the way from the evening before at dinner time until lunch the next day without any nutrition," said Van Poots.

She said to find fun and easy ways to include fruits and vegetables into their diet. She suggests packing a pasta salad with vegetables or making egg muffin cups that include spinach and tomato.

Packing healthier foods can be difficult due to refrigeration purposes, but freezing things like yogurt or applesauce can make the process easier.

"You can stick those in the freezer the night before and when you pack them in the lunchbox, they will kind of thaw out, but they'll keep the rest of the foods cold at the same time," said Van Poots.

She also said to try meal prepping on Sunday evenings to ensure a nutritious lunch is packed for all days of the week.