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Ask A Seattle Expert: School Lunches To Prepare In 10 Minutes Or Less

August 28, 2015 5:00 AM

Photo Credit Meghan Ross
Heather Paves grew up on a farm in the Midwest, and attended Concordia College for her bachelor’s degree in food nutrition and dietetics. She completed her 10 month internship at the University of Iowa, and completed her Masters in Nutrition at the University of Washington. She is a registered dietitian, and currently owns her own practice. She worked with the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program after moving to Seattle, then started working with children and their families at Children’s Hospital for 13 years.
Heather Paves
North Sound Nourishment & Recovery
3213 Wetmore Ave., Suite # 13
Everett, WA 98201
(
206) 660-3225
www.northsoundnourishment.com

After 13 successful years working for Children’s Hospital, Heather Paves left to focus on her private practice. She works with families to help change attitudes about food and encourage the Trust Model for child food intake. The model allows children to regulate the amount of food they need, which changes throughout their growing stages. This model teaches a division of responsibility between the parents (what to eat) and children (how much to eat). With school lunches, the school (when to eat) becomes part of the equation.

Types Of Foods

School lunches should have four to five different types of foods for children to eat and/or choose from, including calorie beverages like milk or juice. Choices allow children to learn healthy eating patterns and try different foods. An example of variety is a ham sandwich that can be prepared using traditional bread, a bagel, or as a wrap. Items that can be included in the lunch could be yogurt, sandwiches, vegetables, fruit, juice, milk or a cookie.

Lunch Meal Planning

To save time and money, it is great to plan meals weekly before grocery shopping. Planning makes allows the lunch to be made quicker, since the decisions on “what” have already been made. One of the choices facing parents is whether to purchase in bulk or individually packaged foods. The best choice is the one that works for your family budget both monetarily and time.

Prep

The night before, non-perishable food and lunch boxes can be put out to speed-up the process of making the school lunch in the morning. The time in the morning prior to school is often hectic with getting the kids off to school, and preparing for the work day. A couple simple ideas to lessen the morning stress is to prepare the lunches the previous evening. To prevent soggy bread, buttering the bread helps prevent liquids from absorbing into it. Also, placing the meat, cheese or peanut butter against the bread and placing the condiments inside help with this problem. For older children, the condiments can be placed in a separate container for them to add at lunch.

Related: Time-Saving Tips For Healthy School Lunches

Keeping Food Cold

An innovative way to keep food cold during the day is to freeze the juice box or yogurt the night before. In the morning, add these items to the child’s lunch bag, and they will act as a “blue ice” to keep the lunch cold. In addition, it does help to use an insulated lunch bag. These food items will thaw out during the morning, and should be consumable by lunch time.

Normalizing Food Choices

Deserts, or “fun foods”, should be included to normalize the food item. When these items are included, they become a choice to the child, not an exception to be eaten immediately. Easy to simply throw in, these items include cookies, candy and other sweets. The portions should be small, like a small sized “bite” candy bar, or a couple small cookies. The idea is to allow the sweets as part of lunch, not the focus of the meal.

Related: Back To School Prep: For Elementary, Middle & High School Students

Karen Ulvestad is a mother and professional writer/photographer, who lives in the greater Seattle area. She graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in English Composition. Her background is in fitness, travel, photography and writing. She continually researches locations to visit, and/or entertainment opportunities for family outings and/or photo shoots. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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