Packing school lunches is an easy way for families to save money, but there is a downside. Moms and dads need to find foods that fill their kids up, keep them healthy, and won’t cause a sugar crash partway through the afternoon.
It’s perhaps a newer challenge for most dads, as the number of fathers staying home with their kids has increased significantly compared to a few decades ago. From 1989 to 2012, the number of dads staying at home with their kids rose from 1.1 million to 2 million. Twenty-one percent of fathers who stay at home are doing so specifically to care for their home and family, compared to 5% of dads who did so in 1989, according to the Pew Research Center. And in this current age all parents — including those dads packing lunches for the first time — are facing scrutiny about what they feed their kids in order to stem the tide of exponential growth in childhood obesity rates.
Research shows raising kids with healthy habits means those children have a much greater chance of continuing those healthy trends well into adulthood. Chief on the list of scary food monsters looking to destroy children are sugary sodas and other artificially-sweetened drinks.
The fact is, it’s totally up to parents about what they pack for their kids. But there’s a ton of good resources out there for parents who are looking to give their kids a fun, balanced meal that looks absolutely nothing like the sludge their classmates are getting. Some dads have gone to the extreme and started blogging about their creative lunches they send with their kids. Chances are, they’re not getting traded at the lunch table for a pack of Cheetos. Lunchbox Dad and others like him can serve as an inspiration, but you don’t have to be super creative to pack a meal that your kids will love without destroying their diets. Just steer clear of these eats, which are some of the worst foods your kids, or anyone, can eat.