Every parent has their reasons for why they decide to send their kids with a packed lunch> For some, it is a way to stay connected with their children while they are away and for others, it is because they do not approve of the school's lunch program. Whatever the case may be, school lunch has become a point of contention in the last decade. Activists are working hard to improve the quality for school lunch to meet higher nutritional standards. But, until then, here are some tricks to make your kids love their packed lunch and will not be tempted to trade for the microwavable pizza.
1. Find a good lunch box - Kids (and parents) are drawn to the most flashy lunchbox on the market with their favorite characters splashed on the front. While these lunch pails might be visually appealing, they don't provide the best protection for the food that is inside. Sandwiches are subject to squishing, fruit is bruised and snacks explode. I recommend a compartmentalized lunch box that offers each individual item protection without wasting a lifetime of sandwich bags. Bento boxes, like this one, are great, especially when you add an insulated sleeve to keep the food cool during school hours. Additionally, if your kid feels left out because they do not have Superman or My Little Pony on their lunch box, get creative and decorate it with stickers or patches.
2. Avoid overwhelming your child - Yes, it is true, there is such a thing as overpacking your child's lunch. Parents have a tendency to overcrowd the lunch box for fear that their child will not have enough to eat. Truth be told, there are a lot of other interactions competing with your child's lunch including lunch time conversation, outside playtime and the timer. Offer a few choice selections so that your child can get through the meal swiftly without too much decision making.
3. Add variety and color - Humans naturally fall into a routine and it is hard to break the cycle. If you want your kids to continually be interested in their lunch, keep them guessing. A sandwich, vegetable, fruit and snack can be your base line but make sure to change things up from time to time; offer a different sandwich every day of the week, swap out the carrot sticks for snap peas, go for gold fish instead of graham crackers. Do not be afraid to throw in homemade veggie sushi rolls, chicken salad, or a cold pasta dish every once in awhile.
4. Give yourself a break - Kids like to feel apart of the process so let them help you craft their lunch box. This not only teaches your child to be responsible but also allows the two of you to bond. I am not saying you have to do this every night but perhaps you can set aside one night a week where the child can prepare their own lunch..
5. Have fun - School lunch does not have to be stressful. Use this daily opportunity to experiment and learn more about your child's likes and dislikes. You will definitely know when something is a hit or a miss.