There is a lot of attention on the nutritional quality of school lunches, but what about lunches and snacks that are brought from home?

A new study looked at the lunches and snacks of over 600 elementary school kids in Eastern Massachusetts to find out what exactly is being packed in kids’ lunches.

girl-looking-in-lunchbox

Here’s what they found (the % indicate what percent of kids’ lunches had these items):

The foods and beverages that were in the kids’ lunches most often were:

• Sandwiches (59%)
• Snack foods, like chips, pretzels, crackers and trail mix (42%)
• Fruit (34%)
• Desserts, like cookies, candy, baked goods and pudding (28%)
• Water (28%)
• Sugar-sweetened beverages, like fruit punch, sports drinks, sweetened ice tea and lemonade (24%)

And at snack time:

• Snack foods, like chips, pretzels, crackers and trail mix (62%)
• Desserts, like cookies, candy, baked goods and pudding (35%)
• Sugar-sweetened beverages, like fruit punch, sports drinks, sweetened ice tea and lemonade (35%)
• Fruits (30%)
• Dairy foods (10%)
• Vegetables (3%)

So, now I ask you, what is missing from most of these lunches and snacks?

Did you answer VEGETABLES? Ding, ding, ding – you are correct! Not to mention, fruit could stand to be in the lunches a bit more frequently. And let’s not forget low-fat dairy foods. Remember that most kids (and adults) aren’t meeting the recommendations for calcium and vitamin D intake.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting lots of ideas on how to pack healthier lunches from home. Stay tuned….and in the meantime, please share your healthy favorites!

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