Have you ever heard this after your child prematurely opens their packed lunch? "MooOOOmmm, what did you GIVE me?!” I heard this particular sentence more often than I care to admit. And it wasn't because I filled their lunch boxes with candy, ice cream and potato chips. I really don't know why God set us up to have a daily struggle with kids and healthy foods, but I've spent a lot of time trying to get through it and hopefully learn a few things for other folks.
Kid Friendly Fruits and Veggies-Varied fruits and veggies prepared or packaged in kid appealing ways, make opening the lunch box a lot of fun. For example, including colored spears(toothpicks), having dipping sauces like organic ranch and chopping veggies into tiny pieces for bite sized eating are all ways to make raw fruits and veggies more appealing. Prepackaged fruits like diced peaches, pears and mandarin oranges are kid pleasers -just be careful to avoid anything in a "syrup", go for the 100% juice and scrutinize the labels for dyes and preservatives.
Tip: Always put at least one fruit and one veggie in every lunch that you prepare for your kids.
An Ounce of Prevention-Limit processed foods all the way around. Consuming large amounts of processed foods which are often laced with taste enhancers, sugar and neurotoxic dyes pollute children’s bodies and taste buds making it difficult for them to appreciate whole foods to begin with.
Tip: To encourage kids to eat the healthy stuff make only half a sandwich. Add many bite sized, kid appealing fruits, veggies, nuts or seeds, cheese cubes and the like. *Check on school policy about nuts-lots of kids suffer from peanut allergies.
Fun Friday-In our family, we always look forward to Fridays. The end of the work week means more time to relax at home, family movie night and letting the kids choose what they have for lunch including a sugary treat.
Tip: On Fridays, let the kids choose all or some of the items that go in their lunch. Kids are often surprisingly self-disciplined with what they choose and very happy that they have the option.
These are only a few ideas to start off the school year lunch box on the right foot. If you have any additional ideas for healthy lunches we'd love to hear about them!