Until schools get their lunch room food act together, I will always pack my kids' lunch. Almost one third of what kids eat all day is at school so it's really important they eat healthy food while they are there. And yes, it takes a lot more preparation and effort than letting them eat cafeteria food, but it's worth every bite.
School Lunch TIPS:
1. Forego the Fluff
When you are in a rush, or trying to pack something you know they will eat, stay away from the snack food that will leave them starving 30 minutes later. I’m talking chips, popcorn, veggie straws, gummies … you know …fluff stuff!
Children tend to eat what looks neat to them. If you make food into interesting shapes they are more apt to eat it. We are big fans of anything that’s a ball shape in our house. But if you have to make a heart out of a cucumber to get your kid to eat a vegetable when they aren’t with you … make a heart!
I saved my favorite for last. We all want our children to feel full, as they may not eat anything again for several hours. Fiber is key! In fact, plant foods are the ONLY foods that have fiber. Milk has none; cheese and meat have none. Pack plants! Fiber-rich foods are filling, they pull cholesterol from the body, and they contain countless benefits for the body, from your immune system, to your digestive system, and everywhere in between!
4. Don’t Send Juice
Chances are you child will go right for the juice before eating a bite, filling up on empty calories when he or she would otherwise be digging into the great lunch you packed.
5. Less Mess Is Best
Yes, most kids aren’t as neat as us, but some are a hot mess when it comes to eating. Have you ever opened up your kid’s lunchbox after school only to find strawberry juice seeping out of the corners, or a brown, mushy banana covering everything? Umm, I have! Don’t get me wrong, fresh fruit is great, but if you are looking to save time cleaning up, pack DRIED fruit instead. It is actually packed with more fiber per bite because the water is gone. Just make sure whatever you pack has no added sugars or oils.
6. Let Your Kids Help
When my boys help me in the kitchen, it’s almost a guarantee they will taste whatever they make. They are always so proud of their creation and will be a lot more excited to eat their lunch knowing they made it.