With the morning frenzy of getting kids ready for school and making sure everyone eats a suitable breakfast, packing school lunches has to be as basic as possible. Here are a few ideas to make lunchtime easy and fun!
While your kids may not go to school with Pinterest-worthy lunch boxes filled with sandwiches and treats that resemble cute baby animals, ensuring a nutritious variety of food that they will want to eat doesn’t need to be complicated.
At school, lunchtime often competes with playground time and socializing with friends.
That’s why packing foods that are accessible and simple are often the things that your kids may gravitate toward. In general, kids will choose foods that seem both appealing and familiar. Opting for simple, familiar, and appealing seems to make for a winning combination when it comes to packing school lunches that kids will actually eat.
If you have found yourself stuck in a rut or hitting a wall when it comes to packing a healthy school lunch that won’t come back home uneaten, check out these easy tips!
1. INCLUDE A COMBINATION OF PROTEIN, CARBOHYDRATES, AND FATS TO KEEP THE TUMMIES SATISFIED
Aim to include food combinations that include these macronutrients to help pack a nutritional punch!
Examples might include:
- Greek yogurt with berries
- Cheese and whole grain crackers
- Trail mix
- Hummus with veggie sticks
- Graham crackers with peanut butter
2. MAKE IT FUN – LET THEM DIP AND DUNK!
If my kids have the option to dip their food into something, chances are they will eat it (or at least try it). Send a small container of something “dippable” that your kids can dunk their fruits, veggies, or snacks into.
Easy options include:
- Fruit slices with yogurt or nut/seed butter for dipping
- Veggie sticks with their favorite dressing or hummus
- Chips with guacamole, salsa, or bean dip,
- Whole grain crackers in veggie soup
3. TRY A BENTO-STYLE LUNCH BOX FOR LUNCH PACKING MADE EASY
Try out a compartment lunch box, like a PlanetBox bento-style box, to simplify lunch planning and packing. These lunch boxes offer a variety of compartments, making it easy and fun to put lunch options together. Not to mention, having one place to put a variety of foods allows customizing my lunches without having to use multiple containers or plastic baggies.
4. COMBINE FAMILIAR FOODS WITH NEW FOODS
You may be eager to get your child to try something new or find a way to get in more veggies, only to find that these foods always come home. Don’t despair! Research has shown that kids need repeated exposure to a new food to consider trying or even accepting, so don’t give up if something doesn’t go over well the first time.
Offering new foods, or foods that may not be as favored, along with foods your child is comfortable with or a special treat, may increase their willingness to try out something new!
5. GET KIDS INVOLVED!
Your child will be more likely to eat something that they had a say in choosing or preparing. Planning lunches out the night before can give you more time to involve your child, rather that during the morning rush before school.
Give your child options, like which fruit they want or they type of sandwich they prefer. Let your child have the chance to assemble something for their lunch as well. This will help them feel empowered about their food choices and create positive connections around meal preparation and lunch packing.
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: CAROLINE ATTWOOD
Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC is a San Diego-based private practice dietitian helping others embrace their health for themselves and their loved ones. Focusing on maternal/child health and eating disorders, Crystal creates the nurturing, safe environment that is needed to help guide individuals towards a peaceful relationship with food and their bodies.