Trying to find a happy balance between healthy food and an exciting lunch can be difficult, especially when packing a lunch for your kids. Yes, as parents we want to ensure that our children are getting all the nutrition that they require, but it is not always easy to balance that need for nutrition with something tasty that children will actually want to eat.
How to Make Packed Lunch More Exciting for Kids
When packing a healthy lunch, I try to find a good balance of the following ingredients to make sure my kiddos are eating a healthy, balanced lunch.
- Starchy food – bread, pasta, rice etc.
- Dairy item – cheese, yoghurt, milk
- Protein – meat, beans, eggs etc.
- Fruit or Veg – take your pick
- Drink – non sugary drink
So….. does this lunch sound like something that would get your child excited? Unlikely! So, in order to create excitement, while still maintaining the nutritional content, what can you do?
There is one simple way of making a sandwich more exciting for children…make it a double decker! Instead of using two slices of bread with a filling, use three slices of bread with two filling layers. You can even get creative with the fillings — with different fillings on each level! It may sound simple, but it works, and your children will love it.
Another way to jazz up your child’s sandwich is to cut the sandwich into a shape using a large cookie cutter. Or use one brown and one white slice of bread. Anything to mix things up and make the meal different every time.
And don’t be afraid to ditch the bread altogether. Use tortillas, flat bread, pitas or even wheat crackers. This is one of the few times that playing with your food is encouraged!
Let Your Child Pick
Within reason, let your children choose their own lunch. This does not mean that they get to pick pizza and crisps – far from it. You are working off of a basic balanced lunch, but everything within that structure is up for grabs.
At the weekend, make a plan with your child for the week ahead. What kind of bread do you want this week? Would you rather a wrap? What kind of meat? Choose from these three. What fruit would you like? Choose from these four. You are limiting their selections to a pre-approved selection, but letting the child take the lead. When a child feels they have made the choice, they are more likely to accept it.
Serve Up the Basics in Different Packaging
Healthy options like yogurt don’t have to be boring. There are lots of options now to get them in fun pouches and tubes.
Tip! Freeze pouches the night before and put them into their lunch boxes in the morning. The yogurt will be thawed but cool and refreshing by lunch time.
Send Them a Message
Another great way to keep your kids interested in lunch? Send them a message!
Imagine your child taking out their lunchbox, opening it, and there’s a note from Mom. How exciting…what does it say? Why did the elephant cross the road…?
Something as simple as including a joke with your kid’s lunch is a great way to have them associate their lunch with fun times and something to be excited about. Alternatively, if your child isn’t a big fan of jokes, you could include a random fact about one of their favorite hobbies. Whatever works – the idea is simply to use the message as a way of putting a smile on your child’s face when they open their lunchbox, and not because they see sweets!