Does the idea of packing healthy school lunches for your kids make you break into a nervous sweat? After one week of school have you depleted your creative ideas for lunch? Do your kids come home telling you that they didn’t eat because they didn’t like anything in their lunch box? Don’t fear! Getting your child to eat his or her lunch just takes a little planning and creativity. Here are 5 ideas to make school lunches the highlight of your kids’ day.
1. Shake it up.
Prepare the same old food in a new way. Instead of a regular peanut butter and jelly on white bread (ho hum), make Pinwheel PB&Js by rolling up the PB&J in a flour tortilla and slicing it into pinwheels (fun!). Try a peanut butter and raisin or banana sandwich for kicks. Try dark chocolate peanut butter instead of regular. While some kids freak out when they see a new “food form,” as kids get older they will be willing to try more things, so don’t be afraid to shake it up. (And, if they are really hungry, they’ll at least try it.) Plus, if your kids are like mine, they actually try new stuff when they aren’t at home. I still remember my son coming home one day to tell me how awesome salami was because he had it at a friend’s house. Obviously, my many attempts to get him to try it were lame.
2. Get ‘em to pitch in.
Getting your child involved with the meal preparation is a great way to help ensure that they eat their lunch, not trade it away. It also makes them feel more grown-up. You could try filling one of each of three plastic baskets with fruits, vegetables and snacks. Then allow your child to pick one item from each basket for their lunch. Add a sandwich and a drink, and you’re done. They might actually eat all of their lunch if they got to choose what’s in it.
3. Chart it.
For siblings who like different foods, make a chart of favorite foods with the child’s name at the top and foods they like and will eat for lunch underneath. Then you can simply pick items from the list when you are still tired in the morning before your coffee kicks in. Keeping it simple and easy for Mom!
4. Theme of the week.
Surprise your kids by incorporating a new lunch theme every few weeks, such as serving all red foods. Pair a strawberry jelly sandwich with cherry tomatoes and low-fat ranch dressing with cherry Jell-O for dessert. Meals could be all round foods (a bagel with cream cheese sandwich, an orange, and carrot rounds) or a backwards lunch (a sandwich with meat and cheese on the outside and a note written in reverse telling your child to eat dessert first).
5. A rose by any other name might be worth eating.
To make those healthy greens more interesting for your boys, label your food with a gross name. Cooked spinach could be Sea Monster Hair. Snow peas are Alien Fingers. Broccoli are mini trees from the Haunted Forest. They’ll look forward to your creativity. (So would I. Let me know what you named everything in your kids lunch. I’ll share it in a future post.)
Yes, these ideas take a little time and prep to make. But remember; planning it on Sunday night for the weekdays will save you precious time on weeknights from trying to think of new lunch ideas. Or, just throw in the fun randomly when you have time. Your kids will never know what they’ll find that way.
In a future post, I’ll highlight some fun things you can do by making a kids bento box lunch. Have fun and here’s to healthy lunches for your kids this year!
What do you do to make your kids’ lunch less boring?