One of the lesser known skills of being a good parent lies in packing the perfect lunch for your children to take to school. ‘Perfect’ here refers to a lunch that they will enjoy for its flavor and that, at the same time, is nutritious and good for them. There are a number of kids lunchbox tips that you can keep in mind when packing school lunches for your children. These tips are aimed at making the process easier for you and more nutritious and delicious for them.
Tip 1: Plan And Pack Ahead
When you are doing your grocery shopping for the week or month, think ahead about what kind of meals you would like to pack for your children for school in the upcoming days. This should be included on your grocery list when you write it up. In addition you have to pack lunches the night before. Mornings are just far to rushed, and it is almost impossible to fit in packing lunch in between getting the kids out of bed and making sure that they eat their breakfast. This is true for children of all ages, and this first suggestion is one of the most important kids lunchbox tips that we can provide you with.
Planning ahead is one of the cornerstones of packing lunches for your kids. So, when you do your cooking, try to cook with the following in mind:
- Will this meal make a good lunch for the kids to also take to school with them the next day?
- Will it be too messy for them to eat in public?
- Is it nutritious enough to justify feeding it to them twice in such a short period of time?
- Will I be able to make enough extra food to give them leftovers in their lunch?
Freezing leftovers can be a lifesaver and a time saver for busy moms and dads who are trying to provide their kids with good school lunches.
Younger children need to be involved in the process of packing school lunches, even if it is something as simple as choosing what item of fruit they would like to eat at school. If a child is involved in the process to a certain degree, they are more likely to actually eat what they are given for lunch. Older children can be in charge of packing their own lunch, within certain guidelines, and this will also encourage them to eat what they are given because, if they don’t like it, they have no one but themselves to blame. Surprise lunches can often backfire, and your focus should be on improving the chances that your child will eat the food provided.
Make sure that you have clean and easy-to-wash containers on hand as these will be invaluable in the lunch packing process. They are useful because:
- They make packing lunch far quicker than it may otherwise be, especially if you have the containers near at hand in the kitchen.
- The containers are easy to wash and are therefore easy to reuse as well.
- Containers like these decrease the chances of spillages occurring at school and keep the food fresher as well.
Buying a few plastic containers for the purpose of school lunches is a good idea and, generally speaking, it is not very expensive to do either. It can make the whole process far easier for you and your children.
When it comes to younger children, you need to be careful about over packing their lunchboxes. As adults we like to have a variety and a choice in our meals. Younger children get confused by too much choice if they are unsupervised. Consequently, if you include too many different options in their lunch, they may be inclined to take a bite or two out of each and simply leave the rest. This can result in a great deal of food wastage, as well as unfair berating of the child who simply does not understand what is expected of him or her in that situation. Also note that you should not expect your child to eat more than what they need to feel full.
It is very important that your children eat their lunch as this will relate to their school achievement during the day. So, at times, you may need to sacrifice perfect nutrition and, instead, pack food for your children that you know they are going to eat. There are a couple of tips to bear in mind here:
- If a meal comes home uneaten, do not try that same meal again as you are likely to be disappointed.
- Test out food at home if you are feeling adventurous with new dishes in order to see how your children take to the new option – novel food that tastes good will be a winner, if only for a short period of time.
School lunches are more than just a way to stop your children being hungry. They also need to be a fairly well balanced meal for the day. Consequently you need a main course, which includes protein and fiber, a side item, a treat, and a drink. To make the food appear appetizing you will need to ensure that you think outside the box. The ‘main course’ can be a sandwich, but try to avoid sending a sandwich every day as this may get boring after a while and many children do not like bread all that much. Try cutting up some meat with something to dip it into as a side dish.
It is ok to pack sweet treats for your children. You do not have to steer away from this altogether. Usually your treat should consistently meet the following criteria:
- It should not have any trans fats
- It should contain less than 12 grams of sugar
- It should contain 100 calories or less
Every once in a while it is ok to break this rule and give them something unhealthy, but this should happen very rarely and your child must be made aware that it is a special occasion and the same treats should not be expected every day. Squeezable yoghurts and fruit leather, as well as dark squares of chocolate are all good options.
Remember that drinks are high sources of sugar and may fill your children up while offering no health benefits in return. This is something to be avoided at all costs. If you would like to give your child fruit juice, this is not a bad option, but you must stick to those juices that are 100% juice and that have few preservatives and other additives. In addition you should keep the quantity of juice given fairly low. Homemade tea is also alright, provided it is also given in small quantities, and sodas need to be avoided altogether. Smoothies are alright if they are the only item on the menu, and this is the only instance in which your child should ‘drink his lunch’.
Kids look at food very superficially as, let’s be honest, do adults. They will not eat the food you give them if it does not look interesting or appetizing. As far as possible you should make lunch interesting. When including a side dish for your child’s lunch, make it something delicious, but not necessarily unhealthy (such as baked chips as opposed to fried chips). If it does not look appealing it will most likely come home uneaten. Fruit often ‘looks’ good and can convince a child to eat healthily even if they would not normally do so.
Fun Ideas For Kids Lunchbox Tips
There are a number of ways to make lunchtime a more exciting time of the day for your children:
- Fun Shapes: Cookie cutters are amazing things that can be used to make just about any food substance interesting for a young child.
- Finger Foods
- Kids Like Dipping: Provide side dips for your child to dip carrot or celery sticks into as this will make the meal more interesting for them.
- Snack Mix
- Pack a Prize: This should be something small, but also something that your child does not expect, such as a sticker or a note.
- Mix It Up: If your child is faced with the same meal everyday they will get bored and be less inclined to eat it.
It is important that your child eats properly, and, if you are the parent it is your job to ensure that you provide your child with the best food that you are able to. The kids lunchbox tips outlined here are aimed at helping you provide consistent and good meals for your children to take with them to school. Although they may have the option of buying food, if you try hard they will never want to.