A quick search of the internet and you’ll find lots of suggestions for healthy foods you can pack in your child’s school lunch. But are those ideas kid approved?
“The key is to pack a lunch that’s both healthy and appealing to your child,” says Jamie Kandora, clinical nutrition manager for Tidelands Health. “You can put almost anything in a child’s lunchbox, but your efforts will be for naught if the child won’t eat them.”
Kandora says the key to making healthy choices more palatable to children is to appeal to their sense of fun and need for convenience. Her tips:
- Kids are more likely to eat fruit and veggies if they’re already cut up. Consider slicing an apple, for example, and reassembling it with a cleaned rubber band. This will make it convenient while keeping it from browning.
- You can also cut fruit into fun shapes with a melon baller or cookie cutters.
- If your child won’t eat meat, provide protein alternatives such as a hard-boiled egg, hummus or Greek yogurt. Kandora says a safe way to send yogurt to school is to freeze yogurt tubes beforehand and let them thaw out in your child’s lunchbox, but make sure to read labels and pick a yogurt without too much sugar.
- Sneak fruits and veggies into smoothies you can pack in jars.
- Kids love surprises, so unexpectedly add a new lunch or snack item into the rotation from time to time.
- Use colorful containers for your child’s packed lunches.
- Make homemade “Lunchables” that include healthier, customized versions of the lunch items your child loves. Just find a divided lunch container and add cheese, non-processed meat, crackers and fruit.
“Be creative and try to have fun with the process,” Kandora says. “Even if you’re not sure your child will eat something, give it a try – you may be pleasantly surprised.”