Does the idea of packing healthy school lunches for your kids make you break into a nervous sweat? Have 5 days of school gone by and you have 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.
Shake it up.
One easy way to shake it up is to vary the food that you normally use. 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. My daughter loves Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter sandwiches. 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.
Sally Kuzemchak, a registered dietician with Parents.com, provides several ideas for healthy lunch combinations. One is for Pretzel Kabobs, with ham, turkey and cheese rolled up and skewered with a pretzel stick. You could serve these with ½ cup mandarin oranges, ½ cup shelled edamame or sugar snap peas and 1 container of sugar-free chocolate pudding. You can find her 20 great lunchbox ideas in her article on Healthy School Lunches and Snacks at www.parents.com.
FamilyFun.com has some very creative, school lunch sandwich ideas to keep you inspired.
When lunch needs something special.
If your child has food allergies, don’t despair. Check out Cherrybrook Kitchen Mixes for tasty treats that are peanut-, dairy-, egg- and nut-free. My daughter has Type 1 diabetes so we are always looking for ideas to make a healthy, lower carb lunch. This site has some healthy ideas for any kids.
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.
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. Keep it simple and easy for Mom! I love it.
Theme of the week.
Another tip is to incorporate a 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 the child to eat dessert first). We just found a fabulous book called Yum-Yum Bento Box by Crystal Watanabe and Maki Ogawa. The bento box lunches they create are so adorable your kids will love it.
Click here to find more creative ideas for.
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 will I. Let me know what you named everything.)
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.
Have fun and here’s to healthy lunches for your kids this year.
Looking for some fun kids lunch boxes to tote their healthy and fun creations to school. We’ve got plenty of cool designs and eco-friendly, waste-free kids lunch boxes to choose from at ChocolateCakeClub.com.
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