As any busy parent or guardian will know making sure their kid eats a healthy packed lunch is a nightmare. All too often, once the little ones are out of the door, the packed lunch you slaved over is forgotten about only to be discovered, squashed and uneaten at the bottom of their bag, when you empty it at the end of the day. Not good. To help combat this all-too-often problem, read on to discover are eight top tips for creating healthy kids’ packed lunches...
1. Make It Interesting
Everyone gets bored of eating the same old thing, so make sure you vary things up in your kids’ packed lunches. Try bread rolls one day, sourdough the next and crackers the day after. If a kid thinks they know what they’re going to get, they’re much less likely to even open their lunch. Remember – children love surprises!
2. Make It Fun
How about cutting your sandwiches up using a sandwich cutter instead of merely cutting into squares or triangles? These days there are loads of shapes available from hearts and butterflies to dolphins and trains. If you want to include fruit, don’t just stick an apple in – instead, cut one up, add a bit of banana, lemon juice and maybe a chopped kiwi and pack it in a little tub for an instant fruit salad. Delicious!
3. Make Your Own Cheese Sticks
The advertisers all know kids love food that’s fun, but more often than not it’s not the healthiest stuff. Instead of buying cheese sticks, simply make your own using blocks of cheddar. If you add a little tub of dip to go with them then they’ll seem even more appealing.
4. Kids Eat with their Eyes First
If something looks boring and unappetising a child is much less likely to get stuck into it, so make sure you present whatever you make as nicely as possible – and remember, the element of fun and surprise always helps. Add a pretty paper napkin, or pop in a funky straw for their juice. Little things can go a long way.
5. Get Scoring
How about making a simple score card that you include in your lunch boxes? They’ll take seconds to make – just write down what different food is in the lunch box and then ask for a rating out of ten. This will add a sense of play to lunch time and get you child interested in tasting all the bits of food you packed in order to score them all.
6. Swap Sweet Treats for Nuts and Dried Fruit
Chocolatey treats are all well and good but giving them to your child every day isn’t always a good option. Try and break a bad habit by mixing things up with nuts and dried fruit. Or to reduce the chocolate element – but still leave it in – try adding choc chips to a handful of dried fruit and nuts. That way your kid will have lots of protein from the fruit and nuts and a little sugary treat from the chocolate.
7. Make a Deli Board
Instead of sandwiches, why not create a deli board style lunch for your little one? It’s simple and quick to do and kids love this hands-on lunch. Make sure you include a pile of little crackers, chunks of cheese, a few slithers of cut meat (if your kid isn’t a vegetarian obviously!) and a tub of pickle, and a dip. This way your child will get lots of savoury and healthy food inside them and have fun putting it all together. This sort of hands-on lunch makes kids feel like they’re involved with what they’re eating…and you can bet your last dollar that every other kid in his form will be asking their moms and dads for a deli lunch the next day!
8. Raw Vegetables
Raw vegetables like carrot, celery and cucumber sticks always work well with cottage cheese, and the colours help to make it all look appealing. Include raw red and yellow peppers and your kid will have a rainbow of colours to work through. Just cut up the veg, pop into a container and sprinkle over a little water to help keep them moist and fresh until lunch.
Izzy Woods is a food loving freelance writer. She has the enviable task of reviewing MSC cruises as a day job, but when she's on dry land you can find her putting together the finest recipes and meal ideas for her own food blog.