Many parents these days are concerned with the quality of lunches provided by public schools. To put it mildly, many schools offer extremely unhealthy foods for lunch. As parents who want their kids to eat better, how can you help them?
Packing a healthy lunch for your child is one of the simplest things you can do to help them eat better. The challenge is making a lunch they’re more likely to eat than to trade away to friends.
Pay Attention to Their Likes
The first thing to do is know what your child likes to eat. This may change from year to year and even in the middle of the school year. Keep talking to your kids about what they like to eat for lunch and find healthy ways to provide that.
School lunch packing is not the best time to experiment or challenge your child’s food preferences. It’s easy for them to trade away unliked foods, or even to just throw it away uneaten. Push their interests at home where you can see the results.
Sometimes leftovers are great for lunches. You may need to provide a thermos to keep the food warm, but other leftovers taste great cold.
If there’s a meal your kids really love, make extras that you can separate into easy lunches and freeze. You can save excess for dinners for the whole family as well, of course. Providing them with favorite home cooked meals to eat at school may increase the chances that your child will eat what you’ve given them.
Don’t stick to the traditional sandwiches for every meal. Wraps are a great alternative, so long as you pick healthy whole grain tortillas, not just white flour tortillas.
Wraps are easy to make. You want to cover most of the tortilla, but leave a little distance from the edges to keep things neat. Lunch meats, vegetables and spreads work well. Mix them up and find out which your kids love the most. Do let your kids try hummus sometime, first at home, but if they like it, hummus is a great wrap ingredient.
Know what your kids love in terms of fruits and vegetables. Most will have a few favorites. Try to provide these in their school lunches.
My kids love bell peppers and cucumbers, for example. Put these in their lunch and they’ll usually be eaten.
Keep it Simple
Kids don’t need a feast at lunchtime. They need simple, filling foods and not a big selection. They’re usually as interested in chatting with their friends as they are in eating their food. Sometimes more interested in chatting with their friends. Give them too many choices and a lot of it will end up in the trash.
Dessert Doesn’t Have to Mean Sugar
Kids love getting a dessert item in their lunches. An occasional cookie or other treat isn’t going to ruin them either. But the dessert doesn’t have to be cookies or candy.
Berries work great. Granola bars usually have a lot of sugar, but have other healthy ingredients. Try to balance sweetness with good for your kids.
Variety May Not Be the Spice of Life
Don’t feel bad if you’re packing the same lunch over and over. Most kids like consistency. If they complain, that’s the time to mix things up.