We are well into the new school year. Chances are, your kids might be getting tired of their school lunches.
Here are some tips to spice them up: Start by engaging your kids in the planning. Let them help!
I always like to ask kids what they like to eat, and then I help them put their own lunches together. I can also offer suggestions to help balance out the package, making sure to always include the fruits or vegetables that might not be top of mind to them.
I like to give out this simple page that helps kids and parents plan a balanced meal. This shows a sample meal with fruits, grains, protein, vegetables and dairy — I use that as a guide and let the kids pick their favorites in each category. Point out the portion sizes, too.
If the kids are included in the planning, they are more likely to enjoy the meal. They will feel like they have choices and are an important part of it all — which they are.
A good place to start is with a plan. While you’re shopping, ask the kids what they like or what they’d like to try. You might be surprised! Here are some suggestions for easy additions to the lunchbox or paper bag:
- Low-fat multigrain nutrition bars — instead of cookies
- Flavored rice cakes — instead of chips
- Applesauce or fruit cups — instead of puddings
- Fruit, like apples, tangerines, grapes, or vegetables like baby carrots — instead of candy
For the main part of the meal, you might suggest peanut butter bagel bites, or lean meats like turkey or chicken. They might like to assemble their own cheese and crackers.
The key is bringing the kids into the planning — get them to think about what they’re eating and how much. Start them out with good information to make good choices throughout the day.
If you’d like some additional tips on building balanced meals, check out my two favorite resources for guidance and recipes:
Questions? Please come visit me at SHS Central Facility.