It’s National School Lunch week and and for me it’s an opportunity to help parents make their child the “star” of the cafeteria lunch table. So often, that lunch you pack your child can go uneaten, traded for something else or thrown in the garbage at school. Why not pack a lunch that your child will crave and make him the envy of his peers? The best part is it’s simple and nutritious!
First, start with a bento box or container with different sections for the various items you’ll be packing. This container serves two purposes–first of all, it keeps the flavors/juices from mixing (bread from getting soggy, etc.) and it is an important part of the presentation. We want to make the lunch look appealing to your child, something really interesting and fun, and separate compartments for each food group helps with this goal. Below is an example of a basic bento box with a toasted cheese sandwich as its entree. Note how the remaining sections are filled with healthy snacks like fruit, seeds and few pickles. The sandwiches are cut into stars to further make the lunch more interesting for the child.
What if you’re little one doesn’t like sandwiches? Not a problem! Bento boxes are great for other items as depicted below. This parent stacked lean ham and cheese together with mushrooms and tomatoes on fun stars and heart skewers for her child. She added cubed watermelon and yogurt to complete the lunch.
If you have a picky eater, this way of packing lunch can be an ideal way to get them excited about eating. Think “finger foods” like this example below. Low fat cheese and crackers with lean ham is provided on one side. The other is packed with baby carrots, celery sticks and strawberries. Your child will feel like she’s snacking rather than eating a meal even though all the nutrition is there.
Photo Credit: Wendy Copley/Wendolonia.com
Extend the creativity to small snacks as well. I love this idea below used on the regular zip-lock bags to make them fun for your child. This example shows grapes and goldfish, but I’d prefer grapes and something more nutritious like nuts or seeds(more fiber and protein).
I hope these ideas will help you create a healthier lunch for your children and one they will want to dig into each day.