I’ll admit it. Not my favorite activity from my daughter growing up, figuring out healthy school lunch ideas, especially when she would chuck it and charge school lunch instead. Who even knew they would give elementary school kids credit. Sigh! You are not alone if you feel the burden and the struggle of trying to instill healthy eating habits for your children. Here are some tips and options to hopefully make it easier to get food down them. No guarantees they won’t trade it for something else, throw it away, or leave it at home calling you in a panic to bring it to them when you are already late in back to back meetings all day… Haha! Isn’t parenting great.
First, let’s get some tips:
You will never win as a dictator lunch preparer, having a healthy school lunch means you will need to involve your children in the lunch decisions. Start off by showing them the elements of a healthy lunch to include fruit, veggies, and healthy protein. From here teach them how to navigate the kitchen and perhaps if they are old enough help you prepare the items. Cooking in bulk and making extra of their fav dinner meals really can save you time in the school lunch department big time, but only if they like what’s on the menu. I tend to recommend grabbing food that is convenient such as a cup of fruit, things like packable cherries, grape tomatoes, apple slices, carrots, and hummus, etc. These are quick grab items that are easily packable and stackable with other food items. Also considers that they really do not have a lot of time to eat during lunch as they are busy socializing and meeting with their friends that things that are convenient finger food make it easy for them to grab a bite in the time allowed.
Packing a healthy school lunch should be a no brainer, but just in case, I often have used non-toxic, durable, and dishwasher safe items that are mostly leak proof. I also always had a spare in case I found something growing in one, or just needed to throw one away and start over. Hello Monday! My daughter would often lose her lunch box, regularly, so I always had to have a spare that was sot, durable, and that would not break easily. Now if they offered GPS on the thing, we would be all set.
I would also include a water bottle in her healthy school lunch with filtered water and a small organic juice for her just for variety. I was often appalled that the school never seemed to have filtered water and my daughter easily turns her nose up at non heavily filtered water (even as a teenager) Yay! Parents – 1.
Some combos like Veggies with hummus, protein muffins, Caesar salad, homemade pasta and marina sauce wee common favorites of hers growing up.
I would also include things like crackers, berries, nuts, granola, lots of fresh fruits, and some grain free sandwiches. She always loved peanut butter and jelly, which was s safe option that I could always go to.
If I happen to get adventurous with her healthy school lunch, I will do quinoa salad, lettuce wraps, plantain chips with dip, homemade nachos with salsa and black beans with many tortilla roll-up options.
I found that really quick and safe finger foods were the best and anything too elaborate was often overlooked, disposed of, or returned back home for my mid-afternoon snack (why waste food).
Lastly, be mindful of these last parting words:
- Be prepared for trial and errors
- Be prepared to throw out food
- Be prepared for loves today, hates tomorrow (I am still waiting for her to like avocado again)
- Don’t take it personally
- Throw in some non-health snacks too (I know, cringe)
- Let them make their own choices (Again, cue the cringe)
I went on a long ride with my daughter in trying to force her to eat healthy to no success. Even still, there is a moment that she makes my heart been as she orders salads and other various healthy foods after a binge of McDonald’s, Burger King, and Five Guys. At this point, she has opted to purchase her own food with her own money that she makes. It is truly impressive; this kid is only 15 years old. For me, the more persistent I was about eating healthy, the more she was insistent upon rebellion. I can truly speak candidate that great stress was relieved when I let go, but it took quite some time. I was extremely careful with her pregnancy, breastfeed, raised her vegetarian, no television, and lots of love up until 5 years old and then once Kindergarten hit GAME ON!. Haha. So try and relax, do your best and forget the rest. Remember you are not alone, and Kale may be just a seed planted today, but eventually, she/he will catch the clue.