New backpack? Check.
Pencils, erasers and markers? Check.
Tender treats for sore teeth? Oh.
If your child started orthodontic treatment over the summer and will be returning to school with a sparkling new set of braces to show off, packing lunches that won’t damage brackets or be difficult to chew may be your biggest back-to-school challenge.
Today we’re sharing a comprehensive compilation of foods that are equally easy on the braces and easy to pack for school lunch. To make things even more convenient for busy parents, we’ve grouped the food items into main dishes (read: sandwiches, mostly), sides, and desserts so you can quickly pick one or more items from each category and effortlessly put together a balanced, satisfying packed lunch for your student.
And if you’re really in a hurry (or just want a visual for future reference), you can download or pin the infographic we’ve provided at the end of this post.
Yogurt cups and egg salad sandwiches (with a freezer-pack tucked in) are excellent standbys. Another great option is a keep-it-hot thermos filled with ramen noodles or chili with finely ground meat (or no meat all).
However, there are many more tender-teeth alternatives that will make your student (and orthodontist) smile.
An easy to carry treat is a simple jar of Hormel Vienna sausages in a pop-top can. They can go to school in their original package, or you can just send them along in a resealable container.
You should also think pasta: Macaroni-and-cheese is a typical kid pleaser, but any well-cooked variety will work. Don’t overlook fresh-filled tortellini, ravioli and pot-stickers (a form of Chinese dumplings), which are robust enough even for a hungry teen. Prepared the night before, all of these lunches can be surprisingly good served cold (again, packaged for school with a freezer-pack and a plastic fork or spoon).
Here are some other treats for meals-on-the-go:
- + Banana slices, grape halves, and thinly cut (peeled) apples (dip them all in a bit of lemon juice to keep them from browning)
- + Canned peaches or pears, fruit cocktail and Mandarin orange slices
- + Applesauce or any of the mixed fruit “sauces” in individual servings
- + Thin carrot-curls made with a scraper, plus a small container of grated cheese or hummus, with torn-up fresh pita bread for scooping
- + Individual pudding and yogurt cups
Look for more ideas at the public website for the American Association of Orthodontists.
And since few foods other than yogurt and pudding are truly “no-stick,” add a little braces care packet that can stay in the lunchbox or backpack: In a reclosable sandwich bag, combine a tiny cone-shaped, spiral-bristle brush with its self-cover (one brand is GUM® Proxabrush, available at pharmacies in the dental aisle), a little mirror for quick smile-checks, that packet of wax strips from your orthodontist for anything that starts to poke, and even a small toothbrush and paste.
A final tip for your student: drink plenty of water. It will help keep teeth clean, fresh, and ready to dazzle with that new silver smile.