Let’s face it, packing school lunches every day can easily become monotonous and uninspired, especially when your kids lunches keep coming back at the end of the day half-eaten. So what’s a parent to do? How can you take school lunches from drab to fab and get your kids to actually eat and possibly even enjoy their lunch?
Well, the trick is in the packaging. I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but let’s face it, we all do! In reality, we are much more likely to read the book if it has a great cover. The same principle applies to school lunches. So here are just a few of my favourite ways to add some sparkle…
Use lots of compartments – Bento Boxes, like the Rover or the Launch by PlanetBox are my favourite style of lunch boxes because they compel you to add a ton of variety (ideally in the form of colourful fruits and vegetables) to your kids lunch. Plus, here’s a secret – the more variety you provide, the more your child will eat, which is great when you are trying to get them to eat more produce.
Make water more appealing – Let’s be honest, drinking plain water can bore even the healthiest of us. Kids love the taste of fruit, so why not throw a bunch of fresh fruit (and maybe even some fresh herbs) into your kids water bottle to add a zing of flavour? My kids love watermelon, berries, pineapple, kiwi, lemon and lime. The Thermos Funtainer Bottles are great, will keep your water nice and cold, and they won’t leach PBA or other chemicals into your water. Plus they come in a ton of different designs.
Serve frozen treats – Kids love bright colours and frozen treats and research shows that bright colours make you eat more…which is a good thing when you only pack healthy food. I personally love Sunsella’s Mighty Pops which are popsicle molds made out of silicone. Simply blend up a healthy smoothie, pour it into your popsicle molds, freeze them overnight and then throw them in your kids lunchbox before sending them off to school.
Treat them like grown-ups – There’s no need to serve typical kid’s meals that are generally nutrient-poor and bland. Exposing your kids to a variety of different meals will help them develop a more mature palate. Try bean salads, quiches, chicken kebobs, turkey sausages, meatballs, stir-fry’s, or Buddha Bowls. Kids typically don’t mind eating these foods cold and if you pack them a Spork (a combination between a spoon and a fork) they will feel like they finally got to eat at the grown-up table.
Send non-food treats – Sending a note or non-food treat in your kids lunch can really make them feel loved, especially when they are having a rough day. This is where photos, stickers, $0.25 bouncy balls from Old Navy, or pre-printed Lunch Love Notes can save the day. With different themes like riddles for the little ones and inspirational messages for the tweens, these notes can really elevate a school lunch from drab to fab.
Rely on Pinterest – Pinterest is a fabulous source of ideas and inspiration. No need to recreate the wheel, especially when you are pressed for time. Find meal ideas, lunchbox hacks, printable jokes and notes, and allergy-friendly snacks. Just make sure to set a time limit or you could end up down the Pinterest rabbit hole, never to be seen again!
How do you make your kids lunches more appealing? Comment below using hashtag #packlunchesyourkidswilllove. Photo credit for images 1 and 2: Planetbox, Photo credit image 3: Say Please. This article was originally published in the Huffington Post on 2016 09 20.