The kids have only been back at school for a few weeks. Are you already tired of packing their lunches? In a recent survey by Coupons.com, 50 percent of moms with school-age children said that shopping for and packing their kid's lunches causes them serious stress. While a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich can turn into a school controversy, the biggest hurdle is more likely to be your own kids and their refusal to eat what you're serving up.
Related: How parents can stay sane during back-to-school season
Whether you have a picky eater or a child who needs more variety in his or her lunch, don't despair. Away We Grow host Diane Mizota spoke with author and Weelicious.com founder Catherine McCord about the amazing and enticing bento-style school lunches that she makes for her son. Three years ago, McCord started taking photos of her son's lunch every day and posted the images on Facebook. "Each lunch is completely and totally different," says McCord.
McCord's bento-inspired lunches include a variety of appealing options in snack-sized portions, which makes them easier to for kids to eat while they are chatting with their friends at the lunch table. McCord recommends parents get creative when they pack school lunches. Tip number one? "Don't assume your kids won't eat certain things. You'd be shocked that what they eat at home is very different than what they'll eat at school."
McCord also offered other simple ideas that can add some pizazz to school lunches:
-Use cookie cutters to cut a sandwich, fruit or vegetable. Use a melon baller for fruit. "Always try to switch it up," says McCord. "Shape has so much to do with it."
-Instead of a sandwich, roll out a slice of bread with a rolling pin. Cover it with a spread like cream cheese, peanut butter and jelly, or sunflower seed butter. Then roll it up and slice it like sushi.
-Use dinner leftovers and reinvent them for school lunches.
-Serve carrot sticks with dip. Says McCord: "All of a sudden this is an interactive experience. It's exciting-- it's not your regular white bread lunch." That's right; don't shy away from serving up veggies. "We're trying to get kids to excited about vegetables. For me, I'm about empowering kids. Whether you have a little garden, or whether you cook with them, shop with them...letting them get involved, if you let them do one thing in every meal, I guarantee it'll be the first steps in getting them to eat [vegetables]."
What are some your favorite go-to school lunch ideas for your kids?
Also on Shine:
7 out-of-the-lunchbox ideas for back to school
Reinventing the PB&J, five ways
Creative and healthy bento box lunches for kids