Does the idea of packing healthy school lunches for your kids make you break into a nervous sweat? Do your kids come home telling you that they didn’t eat because they didn’t like anything in their. Don’t fear. Getting your child to eat his or her lunch just takes a little planning and creativity.
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!). While some kids freak out when they see a new “food forma,” 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 eat so much more 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. 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.
Get 20 great lunchbox ideas in her article Healthy School Lunches and Snacks at www.parents.com.
The site also has tips for making yummy sandwiches like one with veggie cream cheese and cucumbers or hummus and chopped peppers.
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.
Getting your child involved with the meal preparation is a great way to help ensure that they eat their meal, not trade it away. It also makes them feel more grown-up. Family Fun magazine www.familyfun.com has several great ideas for getting the kids involved.
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.
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.
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. A mom from Elgin(IL), created menus for pioneer adventures, cowboy cookouts and circus parties. 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).
To make those healthy greens more interesting for your boys, label your food with a gross name. They’ll look forward to your creativity.
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.
Have fun and here’s to healthy lunches for your kids this year.
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