Lunchbox. Chatter Packing healthy lunches for preschoolers. Pack lunches that are easy, delicious and nutritious.

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1 Lunchbox Chatter Packing healthy lunches for preschoolers A vegetable A fruit A grain food (such as bread, cereal, crackers, noodles, rice, pasta, tortilla) A dairy food (such as milk, yogurt, cheese, pudding) A protein food (such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, beans, peanut butter, nuts) Issue 1 Take a LUNCHBOX quiz. Check () all the food groups you packed in most lunches for your child last week. You are not alone if you did not select all the food groups. In the next 4 weeks, you will receive Lunchbox Chatter newsletters which will be full of ideas for packing a healthy variety of foods in your child s lunchbox. Set a healthy lunch goal today. Which foods from the LUNCHBOX quiz did you not select? Pack lunches that are easy, delicious and nutritious. What is a healthy lunch? A healthy lunch is filled with at least 4 out of the 5 food groups. If you miss a food group one day, then pack it the next day. Why pack a healthy lunch? Many eating habits and food likes and dislikes are formed during the early years of your child s life. So now is the time to establish a lifetime of good eating. Since your child is watching your every move, you too have to eat healthy. Your child will copy your good eating habits. Healthy eating over a lifetime will be worth it for you and your child because nutritious foods such as vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy foods, and whole grains: fight infections, so reduce the chances of colds. reduce the chances of adult diseases like heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes. act like nature s toothbrush by keeping teeth and gums healthy. build strong bones and teeth by providing plenty of calcium. keep bowel movements regular, preventing constipation. Now set a goal: The next time I go to the grocery store I am going to buy more to pack in my child s lunch.

2 Simple and Quick Tips Are your mornings hectic? Here are some tips to ease the crazy morning rush: Pack lunches the night before. On the weekend, stuff baggies with crackers or ready-to-eat breakfast cereal, raw or dried fruits and vegetables, diced ham, or cheese cubes. Prepare for all five days of the week at once. Buy individual containers of fruit such as applesauce or peaches, yogurt, string cheese, or crackers to keep on hand. Reduce CHOKING Hazards You or a caregiver should always be present when a young child is eating. Follow some simple guidelines to reduce choking hazards: Shred or finely chop raw vegetables and fruit. Cut grapes into small pieces. Finely chop nuts or seeds. Remove pits from cherries, plums, peaches and other fruit. Slice hot dogs into thin strips by cutting them into quarters lengthwise. Spread peanut butter thinly; never serve it directly off the spoon. Avoid giving young children popcorn and hard candies. Lunchbox Safety Wash your hands and the counter before packing lunches. Wash a lunchbox or reusable lunch bag with hot water and soap every night. You may want to own a few lunch containers so they will be dry when you pack a lunch. Air drying completely will limit bacterial growth. Pack lunches in an insulated container with a frozen ice pack if your child care center does not have a refrigerator for lunch storage. You can also freeze a small water bottle. Then your child can drink it at lunch. Throw away leftovers not eaten at lunch time that need refrigeration. Refrigerated leftovers such as pizza and cooked vegetables can be eaten safely for up to three days. Lunchbox Chatter: Issue 1, page 2

3 Every Lunchbox Chatter will have some lunch ideas. Here are three for you now: ½ peanut butter and banana sandwich Cucumber slices Low-fat milk Oatmeal cookie Cheese pizza wedge (small) Snow peas 100% orange juice Keep Foods Simple Simple and easy-to-eat foods interest young children. Packaging that children can open and food they can eat easily help them develop self-confidence and independence when eating their meals. Common Lunchbox Concerns Unsweetened ready-to-eat cereal in a baggie With added raisins Celery with peanut butter Low-fat milk I m afraid my child will be hungry if I send too small a lunch. Start the day by serving a healthy breakfast at home. Morning and afternoon snacks are offered at most preschools and child care centers. With a healthy breakfast plus snacks, a lunch with child-sized servings should be satisfying for your child. New foods? Before putting a new food in your child s lunch, try it at home first. If your child likes the new food, include it in the lunchbox. Too much food? Sending too much food in a child s lunch will probably result in food waste and may encourage your child to overeat. Did you know? Toddlers and preschoolers grow more slowly than infants and are usually not as hungry as infants. Children s appetites vary from day to day depending on their activity and growth. Don t worry if your child occasionally doesn t eat a meal. It is most important that children eat a balanced diet over a 3 to 4 day period. Lunchbox Chatter: Issue 1, page 3

4 Lunchbox Chatter newsletters will come to you within the next month. Each of the next four Lunchbox Chatter newsletters has great ideas and tips on packing healthy lunches. Issue 2: Put veggie power in the lunchbox. Issue 3: Fruit for lunch adds a sweet treat. Issue 4: Grains and protein foods are healthy choices. Issue 5: A dairy food in each lunch builds strong bones and teeth. Mini Poster of Lunchbox Fox Every Lunchbox Chatter will have a mini poster of Lunchbox Fox. Have your child color the poster, do the activity, and hang it on the refrigerator or wall. This is a great way to remind your child of all the nutritious and delicious foods that can be in the lunchbox. Prepared by Jill Patterson, Ph.D. and Jennifer Heffner, Dept. of Nutritional Sciences, Penn State University; Frances Alloway, M.A., R.D., Lois Killcoyne, M.A., R.D., and Leona Joseph, M.A., CHES, Penn State Cooperative Extension; Bonnie Batres, graphic designer. Portions of this first newsletter are from The Lunchbox, University of California, Agricultural and Natural Resources, Oakland, CA. Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences research, extension, and resident education programs are funded in part by Pennsylvania counties, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Where trade names appear, no discrimination is intended, and no endorsement by Penn State Cooperative Extension is implied. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its workforce. Nutrition & Extension Partnership Publication Lunchbox Chatter: Issue 1, page 4 The Pennsylvania State University 2006

5 Lunchbox Fox says... I love many kinds of food in my lunchbox. Food will make me strong so I can run fast and jump high. Help Lunchbox Fox through the maze to find delicious food for lunch. Start Finish Have your child color the Lunchbox Fox poster and hang it on the refrigerator or wall. Remind your child of all the nutritious and delicious foods that can be in the lunchbox. Lunchbox Chatter: Issue 1, page 5 The Pennsylvania State University 2006

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