You would think after buying school clothes, school supplies, completing the registration process, and a host of other duties, that parents could breathe a sigh of relief when their little ones return to school. However, the reality is that once your child is back in school a new challenge begins-how to get them to eat a healthy school lunch. School cafeterias are rife with the complex trading of lunches that often leaves your child eating a cupcake and a candy bar for lunch. However, the good news is that by using a few of these simple techniques you are much more likely to pack a fun and healthy back to school lunch-
Enlist your child-By having your child help you pack their lunch, they are much more likely to eat it. Besides, would you want to eat what someone else packed for you everyday?
Ask for preferences but stick with healthy guidelines-While its okay to cater to which kind of spread or dip they want, you need to be the one to make sure that school lunch does not become a chips and candy affair. However, when your child is seeing that you take their preferences seriously they are more likely to eat the food you pack.
Don’t be afraid to be creative-Kids are much less tied into having a certain kind of food at a certain time of the day. If your child wants a typical breakfast item for lunch then make it healthy and send them on their way. While you may not think that something they like sounds good, if it’s healthy and they’ll eat it, then it’s a good choice.
Don’t overwhelm them with food-No matter how big your kid is, they may be overwhelmed by large amounts and large pieces of food. Taking the time to cut up food and make sure that you are not sending too much can go a long way as to whether or not they will eat what you pack.Here are some ideas for fun and healthy back to school lunches-
Think outside the bread-Kids can get bored with having just a sandwich everyday. Try some of the following to mix up the variety: chicken tenders, pasta salads, hard boiled eggs, trail mix and yogurt, crackers with cheese or peanut butter, hummus and pita flatbread and sliced veggies with yogurt dip. All of these options listed above have been proven to be highly kid friendly.
Reinvent the old standbys-Kids love chips, but the processed kind you buy in the store have few health benefits. For a new twist on chips that kids love try this-Peel and slice two sweet potatoes extremely thin, toss with olive oil (about 2 tablespoons), lay them out on a cookie sheet. You can then sprinkle them with salt and pepper, or any other spice to taste. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until crunchy. Your kids will love the crunch and sweetness of these chips.
Make fruit fun-Most kids will eat at least some kind of fruit if you can make it appealing. While bite sized pieces dipped into something is always a winner, there are other options as well. Try taking two different fruits of the same size. Slice them carefully and then stack them together. Your kids will love the irony of two different fruits showing up as one and may be tempted to try them.
Don’t forget the treat-No one says there can’t be something “fun” in the lunchbox. However, for a healthier twist try putting in a snack size candy bar, or small pack of cookies (some of the 100 calorie packs), in order to provide a sweet treat for your little one without all of the sugar, fat and calories.