Calcium rich foods like yogurt, milk, and cheese or alternatives make frequent appearances in my daughters’ lunchboxes. I do not feel that they have to be a part of every lunchbox I pack because the girls usually drink milk or milk alternative in the morning and often have a yogurt or cheese at dinner.
If your child does not eat dairy, it is possible to meet your calcium needs by eating calcium rich vegetables, such as Chinese cabbage, kale, and broccoli and including foods with added calcium. Many fruit juices, milk alternatives like soy, almond and rice milks, and cereals are fortified with calcium. In general, children 1-3 years need 700 mg of calcium per day, children 4-8 years need 1,000 mg of calcium per day, and children 9 to 18 years need 1,300 mg of calcium per day. Eight ounces of plain, low-fat yogurt provides about 400 mg of calcium, 1.5 ounces of cheddar cheese provides about 300 mg, and 8 ounces of milk or milk alternative provides roughly 300 mg of calcium.
This recent post explains the difference between several varieties of yogurts and why I often pack either plain regular or greek yogurt with fresh fruit and homemade granola in the lunchboxes, instead of fruit-flavored yogurts with added sugary mix-ins.
My kids love chia seed pudding prepared with calcium fortified almond milk that can be served for breakfast, a light dessert, or afterschool snack. We also use leftovers in our lunchboxes. Chia seeds are packed with fiber and are also calcium rich. They are also the richest source of plant omega-3s. Ounce by ounce, chia seeds contain more omega-3s than salmon. All in all, they are very nutritious and so rich in antioxidants that the seeds don’t deteriorate and can be stored for long periods of time without becoming rancid.
Here are several lunchboxes (including pictures and ingredients) that I have made for my daughters in the past.
- Chia seeds pudding (home made)
- Pigs in the blanket (store bought)
- Tomatoes and raspberries
- A cookie (from a market)
- Vanilla yogurt with frozen blueberries
- Ham on whole wheat bread
- Homemade crepes with chocolate sauce and raisins
- Cheese stick
- Boiled egg (fish-shaped)
- Whole wheat tortilla
- Carrots, strawberries and blueberries
- Plain Greek yogurt with granola
- Smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel
- Carrots, raspberries and dried cranberries
- Chia seeds pudding with stewed fruit
- Whole wheat bread with ham
- Cucumbers, cheese, carrots and oranges
- Cheese board lunchbox: feta, brie and cheddar cheeses
- Whole wheat crackers
- Grapes, carrots
- 1/2 home made blueberry muffin
- Plain yogurt with home made granola
- Stir fried tofu, green beans and broccoli
- Buckwheat noodles
- Plain yogurt
- Homemade pita chips
- Tomatoes and mangoes
- Yogurt with frozen berries with granola packed separately in a paper bag
- Carrots with miso dip
- Vanilla yogurt with blueberries and granola
- A small slice of leftover homemade pizza
- Sandwich with smoked fish
- Cantaloupe and cherry tomatoes
Here are some of the earlier lunchbox-themed posts that you may find useful:
Stay tuned for more lunchbox round-ups!
Tell me what is your child’s favorite lunchbox item?