Think outside the lunchbox. When preparing your children's lunch for school, go beyond the typical sandwich to create a healthy lunch and ensure it gets gobbled up.
By the time the midday meal comes around at your child's school, has their sandwich become soggy? Does the food's flavor fade, wither and wilt? There are lots of possible alternatives to the standard protein between slices of bread. Kids like popping bite-size bits into their mouths, like berries and grapes, that don't require a lot of prep time.
When packing up lunch, use a four-part guide to a balanced meal for your child: fruits, vegetables and protein. Also, remember that mixing lots of different finger foods, from blueberries to cherry tomatoes, make eating more of a treat. Combine a rainbow of colors to make it even more appealing, such as asparagus, red peppers and carrots, and fruit cocktail dessert with cherries, melon balls and tangerine sections.
Fruits and vegetables provide necessary vitamin-rich high-fiber and carbohydrates important for growing children and a good dose of brain power for the afternoon classwork without energy dips from sugar and starch. Cheese is also calcium-rich. Consider alternatives to breads and packaged meat protein.
Plan the week in advance so you're not frazzled in the morning. Be sure to include some of your children's favorite foods and ask them to participate in packing up the lunchbox. Following are some suggested menus ideas. Feel free to be creative and mix and match to your own taste:
- Beans with lettuce, corn, tomatoes and grated cheese
- Chicken strips with avocado and shredded cabbage
- Whole-wheat pita with hummus, cucumber and tabbouleh
- Lettuce-leaf pocket with tuna, tomato and olives inside
- Roll-up with shredded turkey, spinach and shredded Brussels sprouts
- Mixed-vegetable cruditÃ©s in endive boats with different dips
- Edamame salad with quinoa, faro or rice, snow peas and sunflower seeds
- Hard-boiled egg, baked sweet potato slices and green peas
- Cold frittata filled with broccoli florets and mixed veggies
- Savory whole-wheat muffins with ham, cheese and zucchini
- Mixture of cheese cubes with celery, olives, apples and grapes
- Mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, meatless meatballs and pineapple
Treats or Snacks
- Nut butter and banana
- Trail mix of dried fruit and pumpkin seeds
- (nuts may not be allowed due to allergies)
- Sugar snap peas and carrots (sweet veggies are a hit with kids)
- Whole pear, peach and strawberries
Add a surprising fun quotient: use cookie cutters to make star- and heart-shaped cucumber and zucchini slices, carve radish roses and make faces with cherrytomato eyes and carrot-strip smiles. Include a cute card with a drawing and love note.
When you're done preparing, clean up your kitchenware in minutes using Joy dishwashing soap. A few drops can go a long way!