- Skip the bread. When you make a sandwich in the morning or the night before and it sits for hours in your child’s lunch bag, what she has by lunch time is soggy bread. You could buy special containers or cold packs that claim to prevent this, but a cheap and healthy solution is to just skip the bread. Make wraps with tortillas, or pack some rolled up slices of lunch meat and cheese along with some whole wheat crackers. You could also just pack the bread separately, and let your child assemble her sandwich herself. This way, she gets her grains without the soggy bread.
- Let the kids help. Your child will be more likely to enjoy his lunch if he feels like he’s in charge of what goes into it. The night before, let him choose several items – say, a fruit, a vegetable, and a snack or dessert. Pack his picks along with the main entrée. He’ll feel like he’s in control, and he’ll be happy to eat the lunch that he helped make.
- Try something different. Kids can get bored with the same old thing every day, just the way you might. Try mixing it up a little. Pack a “breakfast for lunch”: Try some French toast sticks and a small container of syrup, or Tupperware bowl full of cereal and a thermos of milk. Add some yogurt and a banana and you have a healthy meal that your child will enjoy.
- Slip in something special. Without your child knowing about it, drop a special treat and a note into her lunch box. She’ll get a kick out of opening it up to find her surprise. For example, attach a package of Smarties to a note that says “for my Smartie-pants”. For the first day of school, slip in a bag of goldfish attached to a note that says “You’re o-fish-ally a third grader now!” Fun surprises like this will make lunch time a delight.
Good nutrition is important, but food for kids is about more than just nutrition. Make it fun and let your child have some control over it. Making lunchtime foods appealing means that your child is less likely to toss it in the trash or trade it away for cookies. It also means that his tummy won’t be growling and distracting him from his afternoon classes.
What are some fun foods that your child enjoys taking to school?