I s this the cutest lunch you've every seen? They come from this awesome company in New York called Kidfresh. They have their own store and also locations in places like Whole Foods Markets and FAO Schwartz. Unfortunately, right now, their locations are limited to New York, but I am anxiously awaiting the day when I can find them at my Whole Foods Market here in the Napa Valley.
Unless you are lucky enough to live in New York, you'll have to come up with creative lunch ideas on your own (if your kiddo is the "brought" lunch kind of kiddo). Sure, we could just take the easy route and buy boatloads of those little lunch kits in the plastic trays - hey, they're only a buck at the Walmart... convenient, cost effective... just pop one of those and a juice pouch in the lunchbox or brown bag and you're ready to go... right?.... WRONG!!
Feed your kids something healthy, something that will keep their little minds sharp and their bodies full of energy. Yesterday, we talked about how important it is for you and I to eat a healthy lunch, well, it's every bit as important for our children to eat lunch too! The other challenge is will your kiddo actually eat what you send or will they just throw it away or trade it for a Ho-Ho?
It's up to us to pack fun, healthy lunches that our kiddos will not only love to eat, but won't toss or trade either. Hmmm... what to do?....
Pack a Pita - Instead of squishy, nutrition-free white bread, try packing sandwiches inside a whole wheat pita. The shape in themselves makes them fun to eat, plus fillings don't fall out and make a mess as easily.
Skip the Sandwich - Try sending something more fun, like a wedge of Laughing Cow Light Cheese and four or five slices of little party bread. How about a String Cheese and a Banana Muffin?
Think Dips - Hummus or Black Bean Dip with baked chips or veggies are fun and nutritious. How about fruit with a yogurt dip? Of course, there's always the old standby of veggies with dip, but try something lighter than that full-fat ranch dressing.
You're on a Roll - Roll-ups are not only pretty, but fun to eat! Grab some whole wheat wraps and start rolling. Some ideas are - cream cheese and turkey, a bean burrito, grilled chicken with lettuce and tomato, or how about grilled chicken with swiss cheese and apple slices?
Kids like Salad too! - There are so many options here... a green salad with grilled chicken and, of course a sprinkling of cheese, sunflower seeds and a few croutons. Kids love pasta salad too! Try some of the great new whole grain pastas out there (they taste just like the regular ones!) toss them in some olive oil and a little Italian dressing or pesto (just for flavor), add some grape tomatoes, grilled chicken... your imagination is the only limitation.
Stick It! - Let's face it anything is more fun if it's on a stick. Kebabs of all kinds can be sent in lunches... chunks of lean meats and cheeses, fruits, veggies... anything that you can spear! (I use those little coffee-stirring straws, they're heavy enough to spear just about anything, but without points to poke through the sandwich bag).
Change it up - Who says sandwiches have to be filled with meats or peanut butter & jelly? How about cream cheese (or yummy and nutritious Nutella) and strawberries on whole wheat... or maybe a Hawaiian pizza sandwich, toasted whole wheat, spread with a little marinara, add a sprinkling of low fat mozzarella, some lean Canadian bacon and a pineapple ring.... yummy!
Think "Yesterday" - Chances are, you've got some leftovers from last nights dinner. If it's something your kiddo liked and can take for lunch today - pack it up!
Soups On! - I know it's hard to think soup when the weather is still spiking into the 100's, but in a month or so, soup will warm their tummies while providing them with a nutritious lunch.
Smaller is Better - Remember, even though your kiddos are getting a fairly long lunch period, they probably only get 15 minutes or so to actually gobble down that meal. When you add into the equation all the distractions that lunchtime can bring, their food needs to be something they can eat quickly and easily. Try to avoid something that needs peeling (make sure it's already peeled), or any fancy assembling. Think " open and go".
With just a little cleverness on your part, you can make your kiddo's lunches something they look forward to all morning (okay... maybe for 15 minutes before lunch bell...). You'll send them off to school, confident that their tummies will be filled with healthy food that won't be traded or tossed - and they'll be glad to see fun things in their lunchbox!