Mother giving healthy lunch for school in the morning

Getting your kids to eat a healthy balanced diet is no simple task, but what your children eat and drink can have a big impact on their oral health. Packing your children’s lunches yourself helps give you control over what nutrients your child eats while they’re at school, but today’s families are busy and packing a homemade lunch isn’t always the convenient choice.

Here are a few convenient and healthy options for last-minute lunch ideas that your kids will actually eat.

Guidelines to Remember: Food Groups to Embrace (and Avoid)

When it comes to food, the convenient options that are easy to pack and often readily available might be in the form of a pudding cup, fruit snacks or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but what’s convenient may not always be the best option.

A good snack is low in carbohydrates, doesn’t stick to the teeth and is eaten quickly. Some good food options include:

  • Raw, crunchy vegetables
  • Raw, leafy vegetables
  • Fresh fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Yogurt
  • Smoothies
  • Cheese
  • Nuts
  • Nut butters
  • Meats
  • Water
  • Eggs

And foods that should be avoided are:

  • Candy
  • Soda
  • Juice
  • Cookies
  • Dried fruit
  • Fruit snacks
  • Pretzels
  • Crackers

Making Healthy Lunches a Whole Lot More Fun

So your kids aren’t crazy about the raw carrot sticks you packed them as a snack in a Ziplock. When it comes to kids, presentation is everything, so make eating different foods fun! Kids are drawn to colors, shapes and textures, so try these fun ideas to get your children more interested in the foods that make a difference in their health.

Bento Boxes

Bento boxes are a great way to pack many options for your child’s lunch because the box can be loaded up with a variety of tasty, healthy foods without much prep. Giving your child a variety of colors and options is a great alternative to the typical sandwich approach.

Try filling the box with these options and look to sites like Pinterest for some inspiration on what to pack to shake things up:

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Fresh fruit
  • Cheese cubes
  • Deli meats
  • Bell peppers
  • Diced chicken
  • Yogurt drops
  • Raisins

Surprise Lunch

What kid doesn’t like to open presents? By individually wrapping items inside your child’s lunch box, you can disguise healthy favorites and add intrigue and interest into healthy foods. Try wrapping everything from a sandwich, to a nutrition bar or fruit.

A Twist On The Traditional Sandwich

Take your sandwich skills to the next level by taking your traditional sliced bread filled with lean lunch meats like turkey, leafy greens, sliced veggies and cheese and flattening it out with a rolling pin. Then roll the sandwich up and cut it into small sections like a sushi roll for a fun, new take on your traditional sandwich.

Avoiding Sugary Drinks

When it comes to how sugary drinks impact oral health, the scientific evidence is overwhelming. Sugar is the most important dietary factor in causing tooth decay, and soft drinks are the largest source of sugar in many kids’ diets. Even your child’s favorite fruit juice can be just as damaging as a soda. When it comes to hydrating your children, the best advice is to keep it simple and develop your child’s love for water at a young age. When it doubt, water is always best!

Even with a healthy diet, practicing good oral hygiene at home and scheduling professional cleanings is vital for your kids oral health. Trouble getting your little ones on board with changes to their lunches? Remind them of the benefits of healthy eating – and celebrate them being cavity-free at their next exam.