How do you stop school lunches from turning into some sort of science experiment in the bottom of a school bag? Well it can help if they get eaten, day after day. But what is the trick to that? I hear your pain. I put so much effort into school lunches and often they went uneaten.
What do you put into a lunch that will stay relatively fresh, look appetising enough for them to eat it and actually be healthy for the little (or big) darlings?
Here are a few things I learned along the way as I navigated the hungry years!
MyTop Five Tips on how to get the kids onto their own lunch duty and better still, eating their lunches!
- Give them choices. The choices don’t need to be huge, just simple questions like would you prefer a plum or an apple today? Would you like a wrap or a sandwich? When the decisions have been made, put it all out on the bench and help your child to pack it. Knowing what they have in their lunch box may well be an incentive to opening it as well as eating it.
- Take a tip from Masterchef. There is something about deconstructing a dish. It is funny, but true that kids like none of their foods to touch each other, (or am I the only mum this happened to?) So separate the mini pizzas into pepperoni, cheese, pineapple and mini pitas. It just may work!
- In Australia’s harsh conditions it is a good idea to invest in a lunch carrier that will keep the food as fresh/cold/hot as possible. This goes a long way to your kids eating their lunch. Heck I wouldn’t want to eat a warm cheese sandwich any more than a cold minestrone soup, would you?
- Dial down the Pinterest lunches. As excessive cuteness takes over our social media feeds, keep it for Instagram as your child will probably not appreciate the bunny shaped cheese slices or star shaped carrots as much as you think they will. Work instead on making appealing lunches by thinking about colour, texture and of course, flavours. A protein, some veggies, fruit, as well as crackers, or flatbread, tortillas etc will always be appealing to little eyes.
- Have a weekend cooking session with the kids to make some easy finger foods that are lunchbox worthy. Fritters are always yummy, hot or cold. They can be frozen and put straight into a lunch box from the freezer. They will thaw before recess unless you live at the north pole!
Meatballs are another family friendly recipe that will freeze well, are easy to portion control and are the perfect protein quick bite when playing at lunchtime is so much more important than eating!
Create some Bliss balls out of school approved ingredients. These also freeze well and are a nice little healthy treat for any morning tea.
Having said all that, take the pressure off you and your child. It is not the end of the world if a lunchbox comes home with uneaten food in it. I confess I used to use green apples as the fruit of choice because if it came home one day, it went back to school the next and potentially the day after that with no apparent ill effects.
You’re doing a great job! Remember that. The kids will grow up and leave home and make lunch for their own kids one day, whether they eat every bit of lunch you send them to school with or not. So keep doing what you’re doing and pat yourself on the back once in a while but don’t forget to check the bottom of their school bags!