My daughter’s last day of school is today (sob!). I can’t believe how fast this year went. By the end of the year I think we are all out of new ideas. With camp starting next week, I want to start fresh and that includes new improved lunch box ideas. I feel like at the beginning of the year I am all creative and by the end I’m lucky if I can get out of the door on time. I put together a list of some tips and a link to some amazing ideas so that you don’t have to think and your kids will think you are the best mom ever!
1. Keep foods simple – simple and easy-to-eat foods interest young children. Packaging children can open and food they can easily eat help develop confidence and independence when eating their meals.
2. Add contrast and variety – by using lots of colors, flavors, textures and shapes lunches become more appealing.
-Color: Include foods with at least two colors from the rainbow along with neutral colors from dairy, meats and grains
-Flavors: Children tend to prefer mild-tasting foods. Think of different foods your child might like and select a variety of flavors each week. It can be different sandwich fillings, breads, vegetables, fruits, and cheeses, just try to add variety.
-Texture: Combine crunchy/crispy foods such as fresh veggies, fruits, nuts and crackers with soft textures like bread, pasta, and lunchmeat.
-Shapes: Make lunch look more interesting and therefore more tempting by cutting foods into circles, triangles or other fun shapes. Use a cookie cutter to transform a sandwich and add foods that come in interesting shapes naturally such as broccoli trees or sliced bell pepper rings.
3. Create balance – Include a variety of foods from all the food groups including fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy and whole grains.
4. Don’t use the lunch box as a testing ground for new foods. Have your child try new foods at home first. If they like the new food, then include it in their lunch box.
5. Serving size – Small children have small stomachs that can only hold small amounts of food. Sending too much food for lunch will most likely result in food waste and may encourage your child to overeat.
6. Don’t forget about breakfast – Start the day by serving your child a healthy breakfast at home. A healthy breakfast and snacks along with a lunch that includes child-sized servings should keep you child satisfied throughout the day.
7. Ask your child – let your child help pack their lunch or ask they what their favorite fruits, vegetables, sandwich, foods are. By letting them give input they are more likely to enjoy their lunch.
8. Add something special – an occasional surprise in your child’s lunch that is a non-food item will be welcomed by your child. Let them know they are special by adding something such as a note, colorful napkin, sticker or a picture of family or a pet.
9. Be safe – pack lunches in insulated containers with a frozen ice pack.
For inspiration check out this gallery of lunch box ideas from Laptop Lunches