Holidays are coming to an end. That means it's time to get back into a school year routine. For most, part of that routine is packing school lunches. One of the questions I get asked most often is how to pack school lunches that kids will actually eat.
Of course packing a lunch every day doesn't do any good if your child doesn't eat it or ends up trading most of it away for junk food. The best place to start is to get your child involved. Depending on the ages of your kids you could even put them in charge of making their own school lunches. That way you that they will pack something they will eat, but it also teaches them responsibility.
Younger kids can help make their lunches. Even the smallest can help wash grapes and put them into a container, or pick a snack for their lunch box.
How To Pack School Lunches Kids Will Actually Eat
Start by talking to your kids about what they want in their lunch box. Make a list of your options and plan ahead for the week.
For a little help on planning, check out this post.
You want to encourage your kids to pack and eat healthy foods but insisting on all healthy, organic options may not be the best strategy. Strike a balance and make compromises. See what your kids want and find healthier options that don't compromise on taste.
Get into the habit of making school lunches together the night before. Over time you can give kids more and more responsibility for their lunches. This will make sure that they eat what they've packed, after all, it's what they've packed.
Get Creative With School Lunches
Sandwiches get boring quickly! Get creative with bento lunches.
Bento is a traditional way for Japanese to pack single serve meals that they can take with them to work or school. The container is usually rectangular with compartments for each dish.
If you are ready to get even more creative, do a quick search online for bento lunch ideas. You'll find gourmet food to fun and quirky kid-friendly lunch ideas. Believe me, it's actually really easy to shape rice into an adorable panda or a Hello Kitty. You'll find entire Pinterest boards (like mine) and Instagram accounts dedicated to creative bento boxes.
Of course there's not need to go all out. You can make delicious and eye-pleasing bento lunches by just taking a little care with how you place the food in the boxes. Simple little tricks like pouring snacks into paper or silicone cupcake liners can make a huge difference.
What I like best about bento lunches is that it gives you the opportunity to pack several small snack items. Your child will have fun picking and choosing and you know that they are still getting a healthy meal. And what child doesn't love a lunch box full of colourful finger food for lunch?!
You may even be able to persuade your picky eater to try new vegetables by cutting them into cute shapes!
A Sandwich Alternative
I love recipes that I can make in large batches and store for snacks and lunches later. Cauliflower cheddar muffins are a great way to sneak in extra vegetables. One of our current favourites is pizza muffins. They're great because they freeze well (defrost overnight at room temperature) and they are delicious with salad.
2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1 cup cheddar cheese, cubed
1 cup Greek yoghurt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup mozzarella, grated
Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and basil. Then stir in the cheese.
Whisk together eggs, yoghurt and butter until smooth.
Stir in the flour mixture until just combined.
Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups.
Spoon 1 tsp of pizza sauce on each muffin and sprinkle with grated mozzarella.
Bake at 200 degrees (celsius) for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes in the pan, remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.