Hints for healthier lunches
Packing lunch for your kids calls for a lot of creativity. You want it to be nutritious, but you also want them to eat it. Packaged treats and jelly sandwiches may make the kids happy, but they don’t provide the nutrition kids need. Then again, if you pack a lunch of salad greens and plain vegetables, it’ll probably come back to you completely untouched. It’s not easy, but you can find the best of both worlds. Follow these tips to pack a healthy lunch that your kids will love.
Skip the bread.
Bread is boring. Mix up your kids' sandwiches by trying other ways to put them together. Use whole-wheat bagels, pita breads or sandwich thins to make sandwiches fun and different. Roll the ingredients up in a whole-wheat tortilla to make a fun wrap. You can even skip the bread altogether and wrap meat around a cheese stick for a fun and fast way to get a protein boost for the rest of the school day.
Make sandwiches fun.
Kids like to have fun, and lunchtime is no exception. Use cookie cutters to make sandwiches into fun shapes. Also, try cutting them into small pieces and using toothpicks to hold them together. You can pick up festive toothpicks at a party supply shop to make these tiny tea sandwiches even more appealing.
Hide the veggies.
If your kid isn't much of a veggie eater, you have to find ways to sneak veggies into her meals. Try adding shredded carrots or zucchini in a sandwich, or add pureed peas in guacamole.
Let them make it.
Kids love to play chef. Give them nutritious meals that they can build themselves, and they'll be much more likely to eat them. Provide a variety of meats, cheeses and crackers or bread and let the kids stack their own little sandwiches. You can even pack a bowl of lettuce and small bags of salad toppings. You'll be surprised how much fun a kid can have with a salad if he can put it together himself.
Go for the dip.
One surefire way to get children to eat fruits and veggies is to let the kids dip them. It's fun, and it makes foods more flavorful. Try light ranch dressing or hummus for veggies, and plain yogurt for fruits. Peanut butter goes well with many fruits and vegetables, and it's a kid favorite. You can even try ketchup if it'll get them to eat their greens. Ketchup can be packed with sugar, but it may be worth it if it helps them get some of the nutrients they need.
Get a thermos.
Invest in a Thermos for a year full of healthy and interesting lunches. Heat up leftovers from dinner and pack them in a Thermos. They should still be warm and delicious when lunchtime rolls around.
Indulge them a little.
Kids' food doesn't have to be all healthy, all the time. If you know your child eats healthy and she's eating what you pack, include a small treat to finish off her meal. Pack a cookie or a small piece of candy for that sweet bite kids (and the rest of us!) crave. If they get sweets in small amounts every now and then, they'll be less likely to binge on them later.