Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

How to Make Healthier School Lunches

What are some simple changes schools or parents can make to improve the nutritional quality of meals?

Schools and parents should focus on reducing fat, sodium, and sugar in their recipes and increasing fiber with these simple changes:

  • Increase the use of vegetables and beans in recipes. Substitute spinach and other greens in place of iceberg lettuce. Generally speaking, the more colorful the meal is, that is the more fruits and vegetables it has, the healthier it is.
  • Purchase reduced fat, low-sodium, or “no sugar added” versions of products.
  • Substitute some or all of the butter, margarine, or shortening in baked goods with applesauce or prune puree.
  • Replace oil-based marinades with balsamic or other vinegars or fat-free, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broths.
  • Purchase lean cuts of meat and poultry and remove the skin from poultry.
  • Add zest and improve the nutritional quality of recipes with fresh herbs and spices.

Direct Substitutions

PRODUCT                      SUBSTITUTION

White rice                     Brown rice, bulgur, or pearl barley

Pasta                             Whole wheat pasta

All purpose flour           Whole wheat flour
White bread or rolls       Whole wheat bread or rolls
Cheese                           Low-fat or fat-free cheese
Ground beef                   Ground turkey (preferably turkey breast)
Chicken legs or wings    Chicken breast
Pork chops                      Pork loin
Mayonnaise                     Low-fat or “light” mayonnaise or mustard
Sour cream                      Low-fat sour cream or low-fat plain yogurt
Evaporated milk              Evaporated skim milk
Creamy salad dressing    Low-fat or “light” salad dressing
Soy sauce                        Low-sodium soy sauce

These tips were provided as a courtesy by Project Bread.

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