Sending kids to school with a healthy lunch is important for their health, eating habits, brain function… You know why it’s important. Let’s discuss some ways to get kids not only eating their lunch, but also excited about their lunch.
When kids are young, often they are happy with the same, or similar foods on a daily basis. But as kids get older, their palates develop and their food repertoire increases.
A starting point is finding out what your kids want for lunch. Of course, there are boundaries: 3 hot dogs, an ice cream sundae, and a spit roast don’t really fall into the ‘healthy’ or ‘doable’ category. But seriously, getting kids involved in their lunch choices and lunch preparation is a sure-fire way to increase the likelihood of them eating it – as a side note, it’s also a ‘teachable moment’, where parents can explain and show how to pack a balanced lunch (a life skill).
PB&J – But not the one you’re thinking of
- Use wholemeal or wholegrain bread
- Use peanut butter/other nut butter where the only ingredient is ‘peanuts’ (or nuts)
- Substitute jam with sliced seasonal fruit (strawberries, apple, pear, etc)
- Lettuce, tomato, left over chicken/turkey slices. Sub the mayo with avocado or hummus
- Tuna salad: Made with minimal mayo, spice it up with some dried dill and garlic, get crazy and add tomato slices and/or a piece of cheese
- Roasted veggies (from last night): A mix of capsicum, zucchini, eggplant (or whatever veggies they like) sliced, thrown on a baking sheet, brushed lightly with olive oil and spices – voila!
Wraps – The sandwich alternative
- Wholegrain or wholemeal tortilla/flat bread
- Add a base: Hummus, avocado, salsa or mustard are good choices
- Add fillings that include either fresh veggies like lettuce, tomato, shredded carrot, sliced pickles or olives, or cooked/roasted veggies
- Add a meat or ‘meat alternative’ like beans (legumes) if you’re going burrito style, a sliced hard boiled egg, or the traditional chicken/turkey leftovers
- Make it colorful
- Good thing veggies are multicolored
- Be a bit fancy
- Cut the sandwich diagonally
- Slice the wrap into 2 inch thick ‘pinwheel’ slices
- Add a frozen pack (or even a small frozen water bottle) to the lunchbox to keep items chilled
- Low fat/non fat yogurt
- Sliced cheese
- Hard boiled egg
- Popcorn (plain is best, or for extra flavor add some dried herbs)
- Granola (homemade is best because it’ll be lower in sugar, salt and fat)
- Celery with cottage cheese or peanut butter spread in the crevice
‘Sometimes foods’ like the individually wrapped bags of chips, a homemade cookie or muffin are definitely acceptable a couple of times a week. In many ways, this is also a ‘teachable moment’ because you’re demonstrating healthy moderation and portion control, rather than imposing impossible restrictions.
Want to feel confident knowing you have some simple, kind phrases up your sleeve to reduce your stress and frustrations at mealtimes? Get started below. Start minimizing mealtime meltdowns and stop fighting with your child so you can enjoy mealtimes again.