LET THE KIDS RULE
Kids like routine, and most get comfort from eating the same thing every day. In addition, the lunchroom is where social status is often determined so what you send can make or break your child’s social calendar. The best way to make sure your child is actually eating lunch is to respect his/her eating style and preferences. Don’t send what you would want you to eat. This is one place where the kids should rule (within reason).
Want a tip about how to make your child happy about his/her lunch? Let them choose and help prepare their lunch. Take some time to talk about what will give them energy and help them with school. Together make some guidelines about what their lunch box needs to have in it. Remember that most schools only give about 20 minutes for lunch so make sure you think about easy, user-friendly foods. In addition, banning foods never works so find way to incorporate “junk” food into lunch or make it a practice to have a “treat” for an afterschool snack. Once you have some guidelines in place, make a trip to the grocery store and let them pick out some things they want to include in their lunch box.
REMOVE ADDED STRESS
Getting your child out the door is stressful enough without the added task of making lunch so do it the night before. Make it part of the pre-bed routine and find ways to make it fun (make it a dance party or a game).
And ensure that your child will have a stress free and enjoyable lunch with these simple tips:
- Let your child pick out the actual lunch box.
- Make sure the lunch box has a place a freezer pack that doesn’t have to be removed to get to the food.
- Use larger bags so food doesn’t get squashed.
- Make sure plastic containers are easy to open and close.
QUENCH THE THIRST
What to send to drink is often a challenge for most parents. Of course, water is always the best choice. It is important for kids to stay hydrated in order to stay alert. A cool looking water bottle can be filled with anything, and most kids will drink whatever is in it, including water. Another great choice is milk. You can either send UHT milk or have your child purchase milk at school. Let your child have chocolate milk once or twice a week for an easy way to add variety (most chocolate milk is made with low fat milk) and keep him/her happy. If you have to send juice, make sure it is labeled 100% fruit juice.
BREED SUCCESS WITH CREATIVITY
What kid does want to have the coolest lunch? Get creative with what you pack and get ready to listen to your child tell you how he/she was the envy of the lunchroom. Here are a few ideas:
- Homemade “Lunchables”-It’s easy to find a compartmentalized container that you can fill with cheese cubes, sliced turkey, grapes and whole grain crackers.
- Leftovers-Send a slice of leftover pizza, some cut up veggies and a piece of fruit.
- Shaped Sandwiches-Use cookie cutters to make sandwiches look special and unique.
EXPLORE THE SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM
Nobody wants to always be a brown bagger (except my kid) so keep the option of the school lunch program in mind. School lunch has come a long way since I went to school, and many schools have really upped their lunch game. Schools have started gardens, which not only teach the students how to grow things, but also provide fresh produce for the kitchen. And some schools have even sent their cooks for culinary training.
If you decide to have your child buy lunch at school, take time each night to look at the next day’s menu and help your child decide what he/she will select. With a limited lunch period, you want them to know ahead of time what they are going to eat so they don’t just grab whatever they see first.
BE A GOOD EXAMPLE
Your child will follow your example so pack a healthy, well-balance lunch for yourself, and they will want to do the same thing. And don’t stress out about the whole lunch box thing. By getting your child involved and making packing lunch fun and a family affair, your child will definitely enjoy a Real Bite no matter what's in his/her square box!
*Disclaimer-Some of the information included in this blog post was used in a blog post I wrote for OurLife Health and Fitness.