- Explain to your child that every good lunch should contain four main elements: protein (such as meat, cheese, beans, rice, and peanut butter, etc), carbohydrates (kids will recognize bread, crackers, rice, among other things), a fruit and/or veggie, and something healthy to drink. In addition, many schools also ask for a snack, and again you can talk about healthy options with her.
- Once you’ve laid out this basic information, you both can create your magnet board. Start by marking out a chart, like this:
- Then invite your child to help you make cards for each type of food. For items like bread and crackers, invite your child to help you cut out pictures and labels and paste them down on your cards. For items that don’t come with illustrated packages, such as some veggies or fruits, encourage your child to draw a picture and then write the word for each food beneath. If categories seem challenging, you can also try color-coding your cards.
- Finally, if you plan to pack sandwiches or certain rice dishes, with a combination of ingredients, try using a full-size, 3×5” card, which can straddle two categories on your chart.
- On the back of each card, glue a magnet. Store the cards in an envelope or basket near your magnet board area.
- The night before a school day, invite your child to plan her lunch with you. Pull out labeled pictures of the foods that you’re comfortable providing for the next day, and let your child select and categorize each one. Do it regularly, and you can expect some impressive new knowledge and pride as your child learns how to identify, pack – and hopefully eat– a healthy, balanced school lunch!
Discuss: How the body utilizes various food categories.
Quiz: Make a meal plan for your next day of school.