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Internet grocer Peapod has joined forces with dietitian Lara Field to help parents keep their children focused and energized throughout the school day with 10 simple tips for preparing nutritious school lunches.
“Packing a daily lunch for your kids can be challenging,” noted Chicago-based Field, who has specialized in specialized in pediatric nutritional care and shops through Peapod herself. “For those just getting started — perhaps as a new year’s resolution — my No. 1 tip is planning. The key is to plan your weekly menus in advance and stock up on healthy choices your kids will be excited to bring to school.”
Among the online shopping tools Peapod offers parents is the ability to shop off a list of previous purchases, and the NutriFilter tool, which acts as a virtual nutritionist, reading product labels and spotlighting items that fit health and nutrition needs in a variety of categories. The site even allows users to create their own customized plans, enabling them to choose such components as high-fiber, low-fat and high-calcium items.
Field’s tips are as follows:
1. Be prepared: Stock up on healthy lunch options for the entire school week.
2. Balance your lunch: Choose one serving of meat/meat alternative, starch, fruit and vegetable for each lunch.
3. Focus on fruits: Rotate colors for variety, choosing one serving (1 cup raw) per lunch.
4. Vary the veggies: Avoid using the same vegetable in every lunch, and choose at least a half-cup per lunch.
5. Let whole grains reign: Choose foods that include the words “whole grain” at the top of the ingredient list.
6. Know the facts about fat: Less than 3 grams per serving is ideal, so choose low-fat meats or poultry. A lunch serving is at least 3 ounces.
7. Slurp sensibly: Avoid high-calorie juice and soda, and instead provide water or low-fat milk.
8. Skimp on sweets: Substitute fresh or dried fruits for cookies and candy.
9. Crave the calcium: Select items with more than 30 percent Daily Value of calcium, including yogurt, string cheeses and low-fat milk.
10. Get kids involved: Talk with them about what they’d like to see in their lunches.
Peapod serves the metro areas of Boston, Chicago, Hartford, Milwaukee, New Haven, Providence and Washington, D.C.; suburban New York City; and communities in the states of Connecticut, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Virginia. To date, the Skokie, Ill.-based company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dutch retail conglomerate Royal Ahold, has made over 15 million deliveries.