School clothes, check. Backpack, check. New shoes, check. A week’s worth of school lunches, yikes! No matter how many kids you have or how many times you’ve made their lunches, keeping kids interested in their “bag” lunch takes a lot of work and creativity. As kids get older, their wants and tastes change. And as they see what other kids have in their lunch box or the hot lunch options from the school cafeteria, it becomes more and more of a challenge to satisfy them with what they find in that lunch box or bag.
As parents, you want to provide your kids with a healthy lunch that keeps them awake and motivated until the end of school day. So what should you do? The best thing is to communicate with them and find out what they want. Of all of the meals in their day, lunch is the one kids have the most control over because parents can’t always manage what they are consuming. As far as anyone knows, a student can be throwing their entire lunch away, but take heart. Here are some fun options to get kids interested in their lunch.
Take all of the items you would put into a sandwich and put them on a skewer rather than between two slices of bread. Your kids can choose what they want on their kabob. By alternating rolled up slices of deli meat, cheese, cherry tomatoes, and bread, you can create something interesting to pull apart, dip in their favorite condiment, and eat for lunch. These kabobs are not hard to assemble, and a bit more fun to eat than a plain old sandwich. Try this Club Sandwich Kabob recipe from Wholefoods.com.
This option is another fantastic variation on the traditional sandwich. Using tortillas instead of bread and cream cheese or another spreadable condiment as a base, the boring sandwich can take on new shapes and flavors. These colorful pinwheel sandwich recipes from Thepioneerwoman.com offer some amazing options.
If the kids are older and want something even healthier, nothing beats a salad for lunch. Many choices of pre-made, to-go salads are available at the grocery store, complete with dressing and a fork. But salads don’t always have to be lettuce and other veggies. Pasta salads, slaws, and grain salads are great options. Try these salad ideas from Superhealthykids.com.
Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and veggies are the items most likely tossed from your child’s lunch. According to studies about mandatory fruits and veggies being served in school lunches, kids took the fruits and vegetables and put them directly into the trash. That’s why communication about what your child will eat is extremely important. If you can’t agree, save the fruits and vegetables for breakfast and dinner times. No need to waste food.
Chips, Cookies, and Other Lunch Treats
Let’s face it, chips, cookies, and other sweet treats are really what kids are looking for in their lunches. However, as tempting as these items are, they truly should be limited as the nutritional value is minimal, and the likelihood that the rest of the lunch will be eaten is slim. Try and save the treats for lunches at the end of the week, like a Friday lunch surprise. Find some low-sugar choices at Momtastic.com.
Keeping kids hydrated is tough. How much to drink? Studies show kids need two to three ounces of liquid per pound of body weight. And teenagers need as much as adults. Water is the obvious choice, but it can be so boring. If juice is a favorite, dilute it with water and send in a reusable water bottle. Be sure to keep plenty of water bottles on hand. These always get lost and left behind.
So many other items can be added to lunches – yummy, healthy items like raisins, yogurt, protein bars, string cheese, and crackers. Making lunch healthy and worth eating is something you and your children can work on together. Include them in grocery shopping trips; ask what their friends are eating. If they’ve seen something they want, they’ll tell you about it!