It’s a question that’s haunted parents for generations – how do you ensure your kids actually eat those school lunches?
It is essential that you plan ahead. Sit down with your kids and find out what their tastes are now (because they do change, sometimes daily!). Give them some accountability and let them help decide what goes in their lunches. Ultimately, you are the gatekeeper, but do a little planning with each child individually – your son in Grade 5 doesn’t want what your daughter in Grade 2 does, as their tastes are likely quite different.
Parents always ask me if it’s okay that kids eat exactly the same thing every day. The answer is yes, as long as it’s a balanced meal. And while it might seem like the impossible dream to make sure they eat properly right now, their tastes will change.
Start with the basics:
- Pack a fresh fruit or vegetable –both is even better.
- For a drink, the best options are skim milk, water or 100% fruit juice.
- 100% whole wheat bread is preferable to white bread.
- Experiment with a variety of grains and breads, such as pitas, buns, flat wraps and mini-bagels.
- Include a low fat protein and dairy each day.
- Avoid high fat cheese and processed luncheon meat. Consider roasted chicken or turkey instead, with lots of vegetables – peppers, onions, tomatoes, lettuce.
- Instead of fruit in syrup, pack cut up fresh fruit or look for fruit packed in juice.
- Rather than cookies and snack cakes, try yogurt or low fat baked goods.
Remember food safety! Use an insulated lunch bag with a good ice pack or freeze a 100% juice box. If the bag is a little tired, get your kids excited about lunch by shopping together for a cool new lunch bag - and don’t forget to wash it out each day.
It’s not a good idea to surprise kids with something they’re not expecting. It can be very embarrassing for them to unwrap a smelly salmon or egg salad sandwich. But if that’s what they ask for, go for it! As long as it’s a deal between parent and child it’s great to experiment.
Until next time, keep well,
Judy Foodie (Judy Scott Welden)