The first days of the new school season are upon us which means it is time to start looking for creative ways to help kids get the nutrients they need in a lunch they will love to eat. Changes to the school lunch program requirements have improved the overall nutrition of the meals provided by the school but in many cases, kids are throwing away more of these healthier meals than they are eating. For parents, this presents a problem. How can you ensure your child is getting the food they need rather than only eating the food they want?
The answer is to be creative and look at lunchtime a little differently. Here are 5 tips for creating terrific school lunches that your children will actually look forward to eating.
Get them Involved
If you want kids to eat the food that goes in their lunch, ask them what foods they like to eat. The answers will certainly feature a long list of things you don’t consider healthy, but odds are there will be some healthy options too. Involving your child in lunch planning is one of the best ways to find foods they will eat that are also good for them.
Maybe you don’t want your child eating or drinking a certain item with their lunch because of the added calories and sugar. Lunchtime can be a great time to pick your battles so that you can win the war. You might make an agreement that they can have a certain item on the days that they don’t have any other sweets in their lunch or similar compromises that result in a balanced lunch.
Revamp the Rules
There is no reason that your child’s lunch has to have a sandwich, some chips, a fruit, a dessert, and a drink. Fill their lunchbox with foods they like to eat from across the food groups rather than worrying about composing a “standard” lunch.
Skip the Sandwich
There is no need to stuff a sandwich in your child’s lunchbox if they only want bologna sandwiches. Find things that you can both agree on like fruit salad, chopped veggies, homemade pizza slices, or even cheese and crackers. What matters is finding foods that provide the nutrition and balance you want that your kids are happy to eat.
Stick to What Works
We adults can get bored eating the same thing day after day but just like that favorite shirt that they would wear everyday if you let them, some kids prefer the comfort and routine that comes from having the same lunch every time they open their lunchbox. If this sounds like your child, work together to find a balanced lunch you both can agree on and then let them take the same thing every day if that is what gets them to eat what you pack.