Guest Post by Andrea Garen of Meals Matter.

Children who eat nutritious foods do better in school, but coming up with healthy back-to-school lunch ideas that children will actually eat can be a challenge for many parents. The key is to balance nutrition with your children’s personal taste by getting them involved in the back-to-school lunch preparation process to reduce food waste.

boy backpack

A nutritionally-balanced lunch combines nutrient-rich foods from several food groups, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk products and lean meats.  Including such foods means they’ll be more likely to get the energy and nutrition they need to learn and be healthy. Here’s a few places to find great tips and ideas.

When your children are involved in the planning process they’ll be more likely to eat what is prepared. From picking which sandwich and fruit they bring from home to buying plain or chocolate milk from the school cafeteria, children do better when they help select and prepare their meals.  It’s a simple and effective way to reduce food waste.

school girl lunch

If you’re too busy to prepare lunch you may want to take advantage of your school’s cafeteria. The school lunch is another nutritious and economical option for families. Take a look at the school lunch menu with your child and decide which days your child would like to eat the school meal. Remember, getting their input is always important when you want them to actually eat the meal.

Andrea Garen, M.A., R.D., Project Manager with Dairy Council of California, a sponsor for Meals Matter. She’s shares great tips and tricks for how to help our kids eat a healthier lunch at school.