Packing a lunch for your kids is one thing, but packing a lunch your kids will actually want to eat is quite another. Sure, it takes a bit of thought and creativity, but the good news is it doesn’t necessarily have to take more time or money. We’ve got five strategies to help you put together lunches that are bound to get the little ones excited… and hungry!
Pick a theme. A boring lunch that doesn’t stand out, or that is exactly the same every day is that much less likely to get eaten. It might take a bit more creativity, but try adding a theme to your child’s lunches to get him learning and intrigued. Why not try packing a “red lunch” complete with pasta leftovers (with tomato sauce, of course), cut up beets, an apple, and some berry fruit sauce for dessert? Or go “round” with a bagel, carrot rounds, round crackers and mini donuts—the important part is to be creative!
Give them some decision power. Letting kids choose what to put in their lunch may also motivate them to eat it. One way of doing it is to divide food items into categories: veggies, fruits, and desserts. Place a few options for each category on the kitchen counter and have your child select one from each, then add a simple main dish like a sandwich. This idea works especially well with multiple-sibling families.
Get them involved in the planning. Another strategy to get kids to eat (and help you get organized while you’re at it) is to actually get their input when you’re thinking up their lunches. Try to plan out the meals for the upcoming week over the weekend and ask them for foods they’d like to see included. You might be surprised at the answers they’ll come up with: they may have seen things in other kids’ lunches that are simple to pull off. Who knew all your daughter longed for were those celery sticks smothered in cheddar cheese spread her best friend’s mom slips into her lunch box?!
Get creative with simple foods. Using cookie cutters to shape regular sandwiches may not be such a far-fetched idea, but it definitely makes for something fun that kids will want to eat. How about sticking some vegetable chips in a sandwich to make it crunchy? Or trying a combo of almond butter (or even hummus!) and marmalade or honey instead of the more traditional peanut butter and jelly choices? There are loads of things you can try to switch things up and get your kids excited about their food.
Add some fun inserts. Maybe it’s slipping a clipping of the comic strip from the daily newspaper in your child’s lunch box along with his lunch—or a joke you got off the Web. What about a simple crossword puzzle or an anagram that spells what the name of the main component of the lunch is, to be opened before it is eaten? Younger kids may just appreciate a note with a smiley face from mom, but knowing something special is in their lunch bag will give them something to look forward to at lunch time!
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