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School Lunch

How To Make Great Choices!

Tired of that same old sandwich? BORING!!! School lunch at the cafeteria got you down? BLAH!!! Want to stop eating junk food and make better choices? YES!!! Time to snap out of that humdrum state of mind and let your creative side shine! Whether you pack your own lunch or pick from the cafeteria line, planning out your food choices ahead of time is key to avoiding the wrong foods (junk) or overeating. Plan ahead, your body will thank you!



1. Make a Grocery List

Make better food choices by planning ahead. Make a food shopping list and stick to it. Avoid being swayed by all the food commercials on television. Think smarter!

Your goal might be to choose something from each of these five food groups: (Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein Foods, and Dairy.) Mix up food choices, colors and textures of the food you pack every day, that keeps lunch interesting. For example, try a veggie wrap one day, a meat sandwich another day, a cooked pasta still another day. Get the idea? Be Adventurous, Be Creative! Experiment! Asian pears, eggplant, quinoa, papaya anyone?

Things to think about:

Containers: Explore various kinds of containers for storing your food until meal time so that it is kept at the correct temperature. Invest in some re-usable containers that work.

Convenience: Will a microwave be handy for heating something up or will you be eating it cold?

Utensils: Will I need a fork, knife or spoon to eat the food? Don't forget to carry what you need and don't forget a napkin or two!

Easy to Eat Foods You might want to buy individual serving size or pre-packaged items like cut and peeled baby carrots or fruits for convenience. But, check the labels and make sure that added ingredients like sugar, salt and oils are limited as those added calories height= add up fast! Think SIMPLE! Anything that makes lunch time simple but pleasurable is key. Simple Foods! Simple Goodness! Simply Healthy!!

2. Grocery Shop With A Parent, Explore all the Great Possibilities

Explore your grocery store. Open your eyes to all the possibilities! Avoid the soda and snack aisle and head for the "real food" areas like the fruits, veggie, and deli areas. Wow! Who knew there were so many kinds of fruits and veggies!! Pick in season fruits and veggies, they'll be cheaper. For example, check out all the different kinds of apples. Imagine all the different ways you could fix them, sliced, cubed, in a fruit salad or whole. Cool!

3. Prepare Your Lunch The Night Before

No time in the morning! Like to sleep in? No worries! Make your lunch the night before and store in the refrigerator then just grab and go in the morning. VOILA!!! Now, that was easy. Spend some time preparing the foods you'll be using for your lunch. Turn on some music and chop, peel, cut, mix away! It can be relaxing and lots of fun. You might even do it with a friend.

When packing your school lunch, don't forget to include a food from each of the 5 food groups.

-More Ideas

- While at the grocery, visit the deli and check out all the great sandwich ideas that you can duplicate at home. Consider veggie wraps, and try various breads, meats and low fat cheeses. Be careful of adding lots of butter or mayo, those calories really add up. Instead, experiment with different herbs and spices to add flavor without the calories. Your waist will be glad you did!

Click on the pic at right for a video on other fun ideas on packing school lunches.


No time to pack your lunch? You have a meal plan at school? Required to eat from the cafeteria? No worries! Armed with information you can make better food choices and feel more confident about what and how much you are eating.

1. Check Out the Cafeteria Meal Plan For the Week In Advance.

It's a good idea to go over the food menu plans for the week with your parent to help you pick better choices. Again, keep in mind the 5 food groups you should try to pick from. It's important to consider how the food is prepared. Is it fried, baked or broiled? Does it have lots of added condiments (toppings) or made with lots of mayo that add extra calories? For example, baked chicken with green beans and a roll is a better choice than 2 pieces of pizza with lots of cheese and meat. Get the idea?

2. Make Good Choices While in Line Think of the 5 food groups and think "naked" food. That means food without added toppings or swimming in sauces or gravies. It's a food in it's natural state. Think:

Veggies - cooked or raw without added toppings.

Fruits - plain without syrup or sugars added.

Grains - (Breads and Starches) - try for whole grain.

Meats / Protein - think lean meats. Eat burgers without the added cheese and toppings. Skip all the added toppings. Remember, Toppings = More Calories.

Dairy - Drinks - Drink low fat milk or water. Keep away from soft drinks and juices with lots of added sugar. Get the picture?

3. Watch Your Serving Size! It's a good idea to plan ahead so you might want to spend some time learning more about portion sizes and how to ball park amounts. Check out healthy single serving sizes and learn to stick to those amounts.

Here are more tips about making better choices at the school cafeteria and at the salad bar.

Armed with a little planning and knowing ahead of time what the better food choices are, you will be less tempted to pick high calorie foods. Remember, EATING BETTER CAN BE FUN! TRY IT! YOU MAY FIND YOU REALLY LIKE THE NEW YOU!!

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