Week 36: Nutrition Lessons with a Lunch Packing Checklist
Having kids participate in packing their own lunch offers some great life skills lessons. But it can also be great for teaching nutrition!
We talk about a lot about healthy eating at our house, and I thought my kids had a pretty good handle on what foods are nutritious and why. But when we started using a lunch packing checklist, here are a few of the beliefs we had to correct:
- Strawberries are vegetables
- Whole wheat bread was a vegetable (because it’s made out of wheat, a plant, right?)
- Really, any food they didn’t like must be a vegetable
- Bananas contain protein
- Avocados contain protein
- A bagel with cream cheese is a main meal, so it counts as a protein
Seeing is Believing
We found that when our kids could see the food categories on their printed Lunch Box Checklist, it made a big difference for them understanding and remembering what foods belong in each category:
We also found that creating each child’s individual list helped them identify foods they did like in each category. One of my kids would gladly pack only fruit and starches in his lunch if we let him. Surprisingly, protein was the category we struggled with the most. He doesn’t like deli meat sandwiches and hates peanut butter, which tended to be our go to suggestions. So we looked at all the protein options on the lunch box checklist website, and he was surprised to find a large number of proteins he really likes (here is the list he created himself):
Doubling Up on Nutrition
These lists also prompted some good conversations about food that can double up in multiple categories. My son loves to take edamame because it covers both protein and vegetables, and he uses this fact to squeeze in an extra fruit or starch. We like that he’s learning about foods that have even more bang for their buck.
There are tons of good resources out there for helping kids learn about nutrition. Here are a few you might want to check out (click on the pictures below to jump to the website):