I've been packing lunches for over 20 years. As a result I've learned a lot about buying and packing lunches and find that buying lunch at school is something we only let the children do from time to time. This year we have a "picky eater" who loves peanut butter headed off to Kindergarten. This can make packing lunches a challenge. Unfortunately her school is a "nut free" zone so I need to look for new ideas to make lunch look lovely and to make simply scrumptious sack lunches that they will actually eat. I plan on using some old ideas that are tried and true as well as incorporate some fun and interesting ways to make sure that the kids get the foods they need and a meal that they will eat.
Packed not processed. My daughters love the pre-packed lunches you can purchase in the deli section and they do offer a nice selection to help you change up your lunch options. But we are trying to pack, not process our meals so consider using all natural, organic, grain fed foods, especially when it comes to raw fruits and vegetables, meats and drinks.
Think small, not tall. Last year my daughter kept telling me, "Mommy, you are packing too much for lunch!" Even with telling myself that they are kids and need smaller portions, in my efforts to make sure to pack a healthy lunch, I ended up packing too large portions which ended up going to waste, being thrown own or, when I was lucky, brought back home to use on another day or in another way. Smaller portions also means that I use less food, so using better quality doesn't have to cost a whole lot more.
Get colorful. Incorporate more fruits and vegetables especially when you get colorful with your lunch. Try brightly colored foods like carrots, blueberries, or cherry tomatoes. Add a yogurt cup or a yummy veggie dip and you are more likely to see these colors disappear right before your very eyes.
Don't underestimate the peer factor. I was told, "Oh I could never pack that; Joey won't eat it." Well Joey eats it at my house and he loves it. It is the same way at school, as soon as your child says, "Oh I don't like this" and is greeted by a friend's enthusiastic response, "I'll eat it, I love it!" they usually will reconsider their decision and at least give it a try. So before you do preventative packing in the lunch box, remember that the peer factor can be strong.
Shape up and ship out. Shapes make eating more fun. I don't know why, but even I tend to look at an egg salad sandwich in a whole new light when the shape of a star is shining bright. There are plenty of products out there to help you with shaping up your sandwiches, salads, and snacks, or just pull a metal cookie cutter out of your drawer.
Victory with variety. Mix it up and you will see that there is victory with variety. Sure a ham sandwich, apple and pretzels are a tried and true lunch time menu, but you will find that the more variety you add to your child's lunch box, the more likely they are to love it. Trust me, after a few weeks of the same three meals over and over again; even the most popular lunch menu item will become a real loser.
Making sure your child gets a healthy lunch doesn't have to be hard. One of the best ways to make a simply scrumptious sack lunch take what your child loves; and make it bigger, better and brighter.
Read more by this contributor8 tips on holding a family meeting