School is back in session which means, for all you Moms out there, your sanity can finally start making it's way back, woohoo!, but with that daily routine comes the oh so fun lunch planning. Lunches are my biggest struggle. I try to pack nutritious foods but often get lunches boxes returned with full containers. The struggle is real! Today we have the talented Chef Deb Cantrell of Savor Culinary Services back on the blog sharing a few tips on how to get your little ones to eat those healthy lunches and get them packed and ready with ease.
I’ll let Chef Deb take over from here…
An Experts Advice on Packing Easy, Healthy Lunches Your Kids Will Actually Eat
Kids are back in school and while you might be rejoicing at the thought of getting some free time back, you might also be dreading having to pack those back to school lunches. As a mom of two children myself (although my youngest is now in high school!) I know how difficult it can be to get kids to eat the lunches you pack them, let alone healthy ones! Over the years, through trial and error I have figured out some tricks that get your kids to actually eat the healthy lunches you pack them (imagine that!)
Include a Lot of Color: Kids eat with their eyes first. The more color you can add to their lunch, the more visually appealing the food will be. As you know, your kids probably have a favorite color so pack some fruit and vegetables in that color and they will probably be more open to trying it.
Incorporate Fun Shapes: Kids love fun shapes and textures, so stock up on some fun cookie cutters and get a little artsy and make star-shaped strawberries, heart-shaped cheese bites or dinosaur shaped sandwiches. You could even get alphabet cookie cutters and make their name. There are so many fun possibilities and an old turkey sandwich will be exciting again! Check out this fun Star Wars theme lunch via www.MarthaStawart.com.
Get a Cool Lunch Box: Bento boxes are seriously one of the best containers for packing lunches. These boxes are easy to clean and they are compartmentalized so you can keep food separated and stored neatly. Not only that, but these boxes collapse so they can easily fit into your kids’ backpack after they’re done with lunch.
I have found that the best way to get kids to eat their lunch is to focus on presentation and part of that presentation is getting a fun lunch box. The way you present the food makes all the difference! If you don’t have a fancy Bento box, I have seen parents use those rubber “cupcake holders” to put crackers and things in just to make it more interesting than an old brown-bag.
Involve Your Kids in the Process: One of the best tricks I’ve learned is to get my kids involved in the process. Yes, it might take more time to put together their lunch, but having your child help gets them more excited about it since it is also their creation.
When I get kids involved in lunch making, I usually ask them what kind of colors they want and what they’re in the mood to eat. Of course, kids can change their minds the next day, but having them help plan is the first step to getting them more interested in the lunch you’re packing.
Create a Theme: While this might require you going the extra mile a bit, planning a theme for your kids’ lunch can be a fun way to get them to eat everything you’ve packed. For example, I’ve done a fun bunny-themed lunch before, where I used bunny cookie cutters to make bunny-shaped sandwiches and then I packed carrots with them (since bunnies eat carrots) and ranch. That’s a simple lunch but since it has a theme, it immediately draws kids in. Remember, they are full of imagination so make lunch more fun with superheroes, animal or princess themes – whatever will help your kid look forward to eating their lunch!
You can find lots of fun lunch inspiration like the bunny sandwich above on www.Pinterest.com! Grab the kids and make it a fun activity to search for your next lunch project!
Last year, on Good Morning Texas I shared three easy and healthy back to school lunches that kids love. You can find these recipes on Fort Worth Magazine’s Bon Appetit blog.