As you know by now, all parents have a different idea of what is healthy food and what is not. For years, you’ve had the opportunity to hand select and monitor what your child eats for lunch. Now it’s time to test their ability. It’s only natural for your child’s eyes to wander, notice, and be envious of what other kids are eating. Here are a few tips that will help you make your child’s lunch healthy, fun, and noticed by the other kids.
It’s important to have the right gear and the lunchbox is an important asset. Consider letting your child pick out his own lunchbox or purchase one and let him decorate it with paint or markers. Make sure to label the lunchbox with your child’s name. Since most schools don’t provide a refrigerator to store lunchboxes, select an insulated one with a reusable freezer pack to keep the lunch fresh. Instead of using a freezer pack, you can also freeze a bottle of water and add it to the lunchbox. It will keep the lunch cold and fresh during morning classes, but by lunch time it will have thawed and be ready to drink.
Gear and containers
Those gimmicky, salt, fat and sugar-filled, Lunchables trays are very popular with kids – not because they taste so good, but because they look so cool. There’s no reason a homemade lunch needs to look dull and unappetizing. Buy colorful containers in different shapes to pack your child’s lunch. These containers are better than plastic bags and less wasteful too. If your child is drawn to characters, buy some stickers and decorate the containers. Put your child’s name on the containers, but understand it’s inevitable that some containers may not make their way home. Another option is to purchase inexpensive or semi-disposable containers. If they accidentally end up in the trash, you won’t be too disappointed.
Provide small servings and many choices. Variety is the key to healthy eating. Providing your child with variety isn’t difficult or time consuming. Many lunch foods can be prepared in advance in large quantities. Each morning, simply fill up small containers with different foods.
Quick lunchbox food suggestions include:
- Dried fruit
- Fresh fruit pieces or a piece of whole fruit
- Applesauce (no sugar added)
- Celery sticks filled with cream cheese and raisins, or white bean dip
- Sugar snap peas with Ranch dressing for dipping
- Yogurt or a smoothie
- Lunch meat roll-ups with cream cheese and an asparagus in the middle
- Hard boiled egg
- Cheese cubes or string cheese logs
- Peanut butter (or sunflower butter) and apple slices or crackers
- White bean dip or hummus with carrots and mini pita breads
- Whole grain crackers or pretzels
- Trail mix made from cereal, nuts, and dried fruit
Talk to your child about lunchtime: Don’t assume that your child’s uneaten lunch is a sign that he didn’t like the food you packed. If you ask a few questions, you may find that your child doesn’t have enough time to eat lunch or that he’s spending more time socializing with his friends than actually chewing. Asking questions will give you the opportunity to help him learn other important skills such as managing his time and selecting times to socialize.
What tricks do you use to help your kids eat a healthy school lunch?