Words on Wellness

Guest Column
Kelsey Salow
Human Sciences Specialist, ISU Extension & Outreach

Back to School? Back to Work? Pack Lunch to Go!

     Lunch provides the midday boost that you and your child need for afternoon brainpower. Packing lunch with your child is also a great way to stay connected. What if your child is a choosy eater? This can be a sign your child is searching for more independence. Your child might benefit from packing their own lunch, while you have the opportunity to serve as a model for good nutrition behaviors. Use the five main food groups for you and your child to pack your lunch.

     • Fruit—Apple, banana, peach, grapes, pear, strawberries

     • Vegetable—Raw celery, edamame, cucumber, peppers, carrots, cherry tomatoes

     • Protein—Chicken/turkey breast, tuna, peanut butter, handful of unsalted nuts, hummus, hard-boiled eggs

     • Grain—Whole grain bread, bagel, muffin, steamed brown rice, quinoa

     • Dairy—Cheese stick/cubes, low-fat yogurt, low-fat milk

     Encourage your child to pick or add foods together from each category to make a well-balanced lunch!

Don’t Forget about Lunchbox Food Safety

     Whether you are back to school or work, packing a meal can have some amazing benefits! Packed meals may be lower in calories and provide more essential nutrients, such as fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Packing meals also saves money. It is important to remember lunch-box food safety when packing your meal. Follow these tips to prevent being ill when eating on the go.

     • Keep cold food below 40°F and hot food above 140°F.

     • Use an insulated lunch box. Some food is safe without a cold source, like whole fruits and vegetables, canned meat and fish, and peanut butter.

     • For perishable foods, keep foods cold by including at least two cold sources. Use two frozen gel packs or combine a frozen gel pack with a frozen juice box, fruit cup, or frozen bottled water. Place cold sources on top and bottom of perishable food items, including lunch meats, eggs, cheese, yogurt, and milk.

     • Clean your lunch box or bag regularly to avoid bacteria growing on the sides.


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