Fruits and vegetables are healthy and easy to prepare, making them good additions to your child’s lunchbox every day. The Iowa State Department of Education says that children can also eat frozen or dried fruits, canned fruit in natural juices and 100 percent juices as good substitutes for fresh produce, but try to buy seasonal fruits and vegetables whenever possible. You could also invite your child to participate when you go shopping, encourage him to choose a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables that match the colors of the rainbow.
Whole apples do well in children’s lunchboxes, even when they get jostled around before lunchtime. One way to entice children to eat fruit is to pack a cup of unsweetened or vanilla yogurt as a healthy dip for fresh apple slices.
Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are a popular finger food with many children. Buy and serve berries that are in season, or look for frozen, unsweetened berries to add to a homemade fruit cup or to mix with plain yogurt.
Bananas can be sent to school either whole, on sandwiches or in fruit salads. Squirt a little lemon juice on sliced bananas to keep them from turning brown.
Cut melon into slices or cubes, or have your child use a melon baller to scoop up round balls of honeydew, cantaloupe or watermelon. Mix fresh melon with blueberries and shredded coconut to create colorful fruit salad to include in a lunchbox.
Most children love Satsuma mandarins in their lunchboxes because they are seedless and easy to peel. Their natural sweetness also appeals to a child's sweet tooth without adding large amounts of sugar to lunch. Texas A&M University professor Julian W. Sauls says delicious satsumas are available from October through December.
Carrots and Celery
Children enjoy dipping carrot and celery sticks into hummus or a low-fat ranch dressing. You can also add shredded carrots to your child’s lunchbox sandwiches or spread peanut or almond butter on stalks of celery for a protein-rich vegetable snack.
Cutting vegetables such as bell peppers into different shapes can make eating veggies more fun for young children, according to the Massachusetts Fruit & Vegetable Nutrition Council.
Include children in the preparation of school lunchboxes by asking them to fill a container with a colorful mixture of red, green and yellow bell pepper strips or chunks. Send along some hummus, a protein and fiber-rich dip you can either purchase or make at home with garbanzo beans as the main ingredient.
The vitamins, fiber, minerals and antioxidants in broccoli provide essential nutrients and may help boost your child’s immunity. Children often prefer broccoli if it is blanched by boiling or steaming for a few minutes and then plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. When you put it in your child’s lunchbox, blanched broccoli will stay green and fresh-tasting.