Here's how you can keep those school lunches fun, nutritional and interesting

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

HOUSTON - Dietitians say your child needs four things in their lunch for a balanced meal: protein, grains, fruits and vegetables.

But making back-to-school lunches can get boring really fast. That's why KPRC 2 got this meal plan from a Baylor College of Medicine to keep every week interesting.

MEATLESS MONDAY

This meal can be super easy because it hardly requires any prep! Just slice veggies, cheese and add hummus and you're basically done.

Here is an example of a well-balanced lunch from dietitian Kristi King:
Cucumber slices
Hummus
Cheese cubes
Pita chips
Mandarin orange
Small treat (a couple mini chocolate chips)

Your kids won't eat that? Try one of these instead:
Salad
Quinoa, black beans & corn with tortilla chips
Nut butter & banana sandwich
Cream cheese & cucumber sandwich
Black bean, avocado, tomato lettuce wrap
Apple & cheese wrap

TOASTY TUESDAY

Your school lunch could be breakfast foods like egg bites!

Combine egg, a splash of skim milk, spinach and a little bit of cheese then portion out in a muffin pan and bake at 350 degrees until the eggs cook through. Serve with fruit, veggies and a whole-grain waffle.

You could also consider cereal for lunch.

"We want a serving of cereal to have at least three grams of fiber in it and less than nine grams of sugar per serving," Kind said

That could include whole-grain Cheerios, Chex or Bran Flakes.

Toasty Tuesday can also include:
Boiled eggs
Oatmeal
Yogurt smoothie
Breakfast taco
Mini pancakes

WACKY WEDNESDAY

Time to clear out the leftovers! Send what you had for dinner this week and it helps add variety to the otherwise boring sack lunches.

King's example:
Chicken leg
Broccoli with ranch dip
Potato salad
Watermelon

THERMOS THURSDAYS

Anything warm: soup, macaroni, beans and rice, chili, meatballs, pulled pork, ravioli or oatmeal.

Example:
Chicken noodle soup
Carrots
Strawberries
Yogurt

King's tip to keep it hot:
Pour hot water into a Thermos and let it sit for five-ten minutes. Dump water before adding food and the Thermos will keep food at a warmer temperature.

FANCY FRIDAY

King suggests this be a fun day to get kids involved. Maybe give them the ingredients to put together a pizza, a taco or a quesadilla.

Example:
English muffin pizza station
-toasted English muffin
-side of pizza sauce
-toppings
-side of shredded mozzarella cheese
Cucumbers with Italian dressing
Apple slices

Or try these fancy, kid-approved dishes:
Skewers
Pesto pasta salad with mozzarella
Taco or taco salad
Cheese quesadilla

AFTER SCHOOL SNACKS:

King said after school snacks need to include protein and fiber to stay full until dinner. And…

"They may not be getting all three servings of dairy at breakfast lunch and dinner or they may not be meeting their fruit or vegetable requirement so a snack is a great time to add those in so that way you ensure that they're meeting their needs," King said.

It could look like this:
String cheese and apple
Turkey, cheese and tomato
Greek yogurt with berries
Popcorn, orange and pecans
Or try a healthy version of a rice crispy treat: mix whole-grain cereal, peanut butter and honey. 

Copyright 2019 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.