Healthy Start: Shopping for school lunches

Getting a healthy start to the school year starts in the grocery store.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Tuesday is the first day of school for many across West Michigan, and that means it is time to make school lunches.

Finding lunch ideas your kids will love can be a challenge, so Newschannel 3 went shopping with registered dietitian, Alexandra Cook, with Borgess Medical Center to get some ideas and find the smart way to shop.

First, Cook says it is all about location. If you start in the front of the grocery store where the produce is, she says your cart ends up being filled with more fruits and vegetables.

If your kids are picky, Cook says to find something they like and build from that. She recommends letting them pick out one new fruit or vegetable each week to try out. This way they have ownership over the meal.

"Some kids like crunchy foods, so if they like carrot sticks they might be more likely to like celery sticks as well," said Cook. "When we can involve kids in grocery shopping they are much more likely to eat their lunches."

When it comes to breads and cereals, Cook advises to look for 100% whole grain items, and not fortified with something else. That is because grains stick with your kids and keep them more full for longer.

Cook tells us making as much on your own tends to be healthier and more fun for your kids.

"If we can create things from scratch towards our kids preferences, they are more likely to eat their lunches," said Cook. "It is always a shame when we put so much effort into packing kids lunches and then they come home still in the lunch box."

Overall, Cook says getting your kids involved in the process can lead to less lunchtime meltdowns during the school year.

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