- Written by Lea Hanson Lea Hanson
Get your little students involved in planning creative, healthful meals
Back to school means back to a routine; a well-needed one for many parents and kids alike. One routine for many families is packing school lunches. Sending the kids to school with a lunch they’ll actually eat can be a challenge for parents.
Involve kids in making lunches
Parents and nutrition experts know when kids are involved in preparing food, they have more interest in eating it. This includes lunch packing. They’re the ones eating it, so take their suggestions seriously. Get them preparing their own meals, and include them in shopping for ingredients. It’ll make your job easier and will lead them in the right nutritional direction.
Make a point to include school lunches in family meal planning. Allow your kids to make their own grocery lists and participate in shopping. Then, prepare foods for lunches for the week together. Not only does this approach get kids involved and interested in their lunches, it teaches them important skills about meal planning and understanding nutrition.
Make it different
Sometimes just making items slightly different—such as using varying types of bread for sandwiches—makes all the difference. Wheat, rye breads, baguettes, seeded rolls, pita bread pockets, flat bread, focaccia, or rice cakes all offer different nutritional qualities, as well. Challenge yourself to avoid packing a sandwich to keep things interesting. Some easy sandwich alternatives include wraps, cold cheese quesadillas, falafel patties, sliced sausages, quinoa salad, or even leftover pizza or fried chicken.
While we all desire for our children to eat the healthiest foods, preparing them takes time and energy. With a little creativity and effort our kids can have an array of healthy, nutritious and fun school lunches. Bon Appetite!
Make lunches more fun
While nutrition may be the parent/caretaker’s priority, for kids, lunch is more fun when the packaging of the food—and the lunch box itself—are fun. Gone are the days of the brown paper sack. Here are some ways to make lunch a little more fun without buying (literally) into the hype:
- Sandwiches, fruits, etc. cut into shapes
- Small craft and jewelry containers are typically less expensive than reusable plastic ware and more fun to discover in lunch boxes, too.
- Muffin/cupcake containers can provide colorful separation in a larger container.
- Packing toothpicks for eating finger foods
It’s also fun to build things, including food. The ideas below will spark your creativity; pack each item in a separate container and your child can have fun constructing their meals.
- Whole wheat crackers, cheese, and deli meat makes lunch easy to eat quickly leaving more time for recess.
- Cut up tortilla pieces, mozzarella cheese, turkey pepperoni, and tomato sauce, all packaged in separate containers make fun mini pizzas.
- Granola, fruit, and yogurt in a delicious and nutritious lunchtime parfait.