Getting kids to eat when you're there to encourage them can be tough enough, but when they're left to their own devices at school? That's a whole new challenge entirely. So, we've come up with some healthy and tasty ideas you'll all love - and if you get them involved in the prep they'll be even more excited to chow down come lunchtime. And make sure to check out tips on getting them off to a good start with a healthy breakfast.
Pick 'N' Mix
Fussy eaters often prefer to be given a choice of lunch options in small, tempting amounts. Fill an array of tiny plastic containers or a lunchbox with lots of little compartments with different 'snacky' foods. Try oatcakes, mini pita breads or breadsticks, yellow or red pepper slices, carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes, and some cream cheese or hummus for dipping. And for dessert? A little pot of grapes or fresh fruit salad with yogurt and honey for dunking.
Swap meat and cheese sandwiches for something more exciting, like sliced banana and protein-packed nut butter. For an alternative to bread, the novelty of whole-wheat wraps means they appeal to the pickiest eater. Spread a little mayo on your wrap to make everything 'stick', then add chicken or ham slices, shredded crunchy salad and red pepper. Wrap it up tight and slice it into a few pieces to reveal a colorful swirl of ingredients inside, and tell them they're having a special 'swirly sandwich' - far more exciting than triangles! Options like a filled bagel or pita bread make a nice change from bread or wraps, too.
We all know getting kids to eat their veggies can be a battle, but being clever with presentation can get you far. In a plastic box, create a base of cold roasted new potatoes, couscous or whole-wheat pasta, then layer a few of their favorite ingredients on top. A few suggestions: chicken, tuna, salmon, ham, sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, peppers, carrots, capers and olives. Separating the ingredients by color will create a fun rainbow they'll be excited to show off and eat. And while you're at it, don't forget to make an extra one for yourself - you need a bit of fun at lunchtime, too!
Soup up their sweet treats
As well as a piece of fruit or pot of fruit salad, a dessert will no doubt be expected! Here's where you can hide some extra nutritional benefits - make your own 'oaty' flapjacks, brownies or cookies, but add in lots of healthy and easy-to-hide ingredients like chopped nuts, chia seeds, apple sauce instead of oil and even sweet potato and avocado! Or go for one of the healthier cereal bars from the health food section of your supermarket - anything with oats, nuts and seeds and no added sugar should do the job. Alternatively, a little pot of sweet popcorn is a healthy option you can give them with confidence.
When your kids get home in the afternoon, simply get their lunchboxes looking brand new again with Joy dishwashing liquid. Gentle, effective yet you can bet that it can fix the toughest cleaning challenges in time to have everything sparkling clean and ready for the next day.