Will they eat their lunch today? Will I get a hungry kid after school with a full lunch box I put so much effort into packing? Are these daunting questions going through your head as the new school year makes way?
I think it’s safe to say that one of the top stresses of returning to school is packing lunch 5 days a week and everything that goes with it, especially for parents of picky eaters. So, what do we do? How do we ensure our kids are fueled throughout the day to be able to learn and socialize and be happy kids? Here are the 4 tips I plan on using to tackle lunches as my oldest begins Kindergarten.
Plan lunches for the week. Mornings can be hectic! Getting everyone dressed, fed, and out the door before the school bell rings aren’t as smooth as the movies make it out to be. Planning the week can not only take the thinking out but it allows your kids to get involved in the lunch box discussion for the week ahead. Talking about the types of food your kids want to see in their lunch box, can get them excited and know what to expect when they open their lunch.
I have created a weekly school lunch planner to help simplify the planning for my kindergartener and me to fill out at the start of each week. Feel free to print and fill it out with your kids to destress packing school lunches (Weekly lunch planner PDF).
Giving kids autonomy and having them participate in lunchbox prep helps get those lunches eaten. This can include washing, cutting, sorting, and assembling fruits, vegetables, and sandwiches. Bake muffins together as a fun activity over the weekend and talk about how this muffin will be in the lunchbox in the upcoming week. Have your kids help you pack the night before and place it in the fridge so it’s ready to go the following day. Another trick is to create a drawer in your kitchen where the school snacks are available for selection. If they are part of the process, they are more likely to eat it.
Add some fun
Have fun! Add a note, some cute utensils, and color to brighten their lunch box and day. For older kiddos, you can create a riddle to solve as they eat their lunch and for you to discuss when they get home. There are many ways to have fun with lunch, create a fruit kabob, pack it in a bento box, use colorful foods, add holiday themes, and shape cutters for sandwiches and vegetables. There is no limit so let your creativity run free and think back to when you were their age, what would you have loved to see in your lunch box that would make your day?
Build a balanced lunch
Build a balanced lunch with food groups that will keep them nourished all day. These 5 categories include protein, vegetables/fruits, carbs/grains, dairy or dairy alternatives, and fun snacks! You can even go through these categories with your kids to learn about the different food groups.
This is just a sample size of items you can add to the lunch box, and it’s certainly not limited to this shortlist. One additional note is to be mindful of allergens as there are likely students in your child’s class that have allergies to nuts/sesame and others.
So, now that we know what to do and how to do it. All that is left is to pack lunch! So, roll up your sleeves, get creative, and cater to your family’s tastes and preferences. Following these guidelines and tips can help you achieve a successfully eaten lunch for your school-aged kids. We got this!