Lunch is An Important Meal for All Children
As a parent, it’s your job to ensure that your child gets the right amount of nutrients their body requires daily. Unfortunately, you can only be present for breakfast and lunch on most days throughout the year. For lunch, most children are in school. You can’t always be there to monitor what they eat. All schools are mandated to offer students a school-provided lunch. These lunches are not free, however, and they aren’t always healthy.
This has led many parents to question whether they should pack their child’s lunch for them. Thousands of parents across the country have been packing their children’s lunches for years now. However, in recent years, school lunches aren’t near as bad for kids as once thought.
The USDA has improved its standards and regulations for school lunch programs across the country, making school-provided lunches much healthier than years past.
Unfortunately, not every school district has the funds to make appealing foods that fit in with these standards.
When deciding to pack your child’s lunch, there are many things to take into consideration, including:
- Your child’s dietary restrictions
- Your family routine and schedule
- The preference of your child
There are plenty of things all parents should think about. However, Tots N Teens Pediatrics is here to provide you with some benefits of packing your child’s lunch.
Gives Parents Control
Control often has a negative connotation when it comes to parenting. However, in this instance, it is a good thing. When you send your child to school without a packed lunch, you don’t always know what foods they will consume at lunch. You aren’t aware of the nutrients they are or aren’t putting into their bodies. While the standards for school lunches have improved, sometimes it’s not enough.
When you pack your child’s lunch, you always know what they will be eating. With this control, you can strategically plan out their meals and ensure that they receive the proper nutrients to protect their health.
Ensures Lunches are Allergy-Free
Countless children across the country suffer from one food allergy or another. This can make it difficult to trust the food that a school may serve your child. While many school districts through the U.S. have made an effort to ensure their schools are nut-free or other common allergy-free, it can be hard to stop everything.
If your child has a dietary need or restriction, such as a food allergy, it is in your best interest to pack their lunch for them. You should also figure out what their school’s asthma and allergy policies are and make sure that school officials are aware of your child’s allergy. Packing your child’s lunch ensures that they get a healthy and safe meal.
Provides Your Child Meals They’ll Eat
Typically, many schools offer students one or two options to choose from every day in the cafeteria. Your child may not like either of the options offered and are forced to eat a meal they don’t like or don’t eat at all. One of the greatest perks of packing your child’s lunch is that you know for sure that your child is getting a meal they enjoy.
By switching up your child’s lunches, you can ensure that they never grow tired of their meals. Keep your child in the loop when creating their lunches, as well. After all, you want them to eat and enjoy their lunches. When kids aren’t too restricted in their meals, they tend to develop healthier eating habits later in life. However, you need to make sure your picky eater isn’t calling all of the shots. Provide them with plenty of healthy options to choose from every week to give their lunches more variety.
Makes Healthier Lunches
We mentioned earlier how the USDA has implemented stricter regulations when it comes to lunches schools provide their students. However, not every school has the funds to provide healthy school lunches that kids actually enjoy. Even if a meal is healthy, your child may not even eat it if they don’t like it.
Healthy meals are incredibly important. Healthy lunches have been proven to help improve a child’s academic performance, providing them with the nutrients to better develop cognitively. You should assess the school’s lunch menu to make sure the meals are healthy and if your child will eat it. If not, packing their lunch may be the best option.
More Environmentally Friendly
According to statistics, the average American school lunch creates about 67 pounds of trash each year, totaling to as much as 4.6 billion pounds of waste. The majority of this pollution can be prevented easily. One effective way that parents can help their environment is by packing their child’s lunch. Make sure that you are using reusable containers, bottles, and lunch boxes to reduce waste.
You can even get your child involved, as well! Let them know the impact waste has on the planet and how packing their lunch can help save it.
We have briefly mentioned throughout this article how keeping your child involved in their lunch planning can be incredibly helpful. You want to make sure that they eat their lunches and enjoy them, so you should let them choose from options of healthy choices. You can let them know that their lunches are helping the environment by reducing waste. However, you can also start teaching them responsibility.
Some parents find it hard to fit making their child’s lunches for them in their daily schedule, so many find it helpful to teach their kids how to do it themselves. Not only does it clear up a part of your day, but it offers your child a chance to learn important skills and responsibilities they can take with them in adulthood.
There are plenty of reasons why packing your child’s lunch can be helpful for both you and your child. If your budget, schedule, and child’s dietary needs permit, it may be the best option for you. However, not every family has a schedule or means to consistently make their child’s lunches. Tots N Teens Pediatrics understands how important your child’s health is, and we are always here to assist you and your family.