It is easy to pack school lunches with loads of healthy foods like vegetables and fruits. The challenge lies in making sure that they actually eat their food!
If you are tired of loading up their lunch bags with healthy food only to dump most of it into the garbage at the end of the day then read on. I am going to share a handful of simple tricks to help you and your kids eat and enjoy their healthy school lunches.
This blog is divided into two parts. Part one is my recent CTV appearance where I covered three key tips and Part two is in the blog below. They each contain different tips so please explore them both!
You may pick up some new lunch ideas as well!
And my favourite tip is at the end of this blog.
You can watch the segment HERE.
If you are giving your kids a thermos full of sliced up sausages and sweet potato cubes for example, do not put the veggies on the bottom. Make sure that meat is the last bite (if they are carnivores that is).
Otherwise you know how this story ends…the veggies will remain uneaten.
2. Don’t let cheese get soggy.
Is this a universal problem? My kids, who LOVE cheese, have made me throw out so much cheese because they said it was “soggy” by lunch time.
First off, never pack cheese in a container with anything else, especially fruits or veggies. The water from the fruits and veggies will create a moist environment or seep directly into the cheese, making it mushy and just not appetizing at all.
So, what to do? Freeze it!
Cut up your cheese into slices and freeze them. Then put the frozen cheese into individual portions (in small containers) and take them out of the freezer only when you are packing the lunch.
Cheestrings and Babybells are solving this problem by being individually packaged but then you have extra garbage…and I have never seen a high quality cheese in individual portions.
PS-If ice packs are working for you on their own, that is awesome too!
3. Give them a healthy “treat.”
In our house, my hubby and I can barely finish a meal without at least one (or three) squares of dark chocolate. And my kids are not immune to our weakness so as time passes, they are adopting our habit of enjoying a little treat after a meal.
But I don’t want to fill their lunches with unhealthy options like cookies and snack bars.
So instead of throwing a bunch of kale into my kids lunch and hoping for the best, I purposely include at least one treat that really is a treat, by my standards of course. And the kids know that the rule is, I will continue to give you this treat so long as I see that you are doing your best to eat the healthy food as well.
The treats I turn to most often are
- A square of dark chocolate.
- Flax Snax (super easy to make with your kids)
- Plantain chips (Just a small handful. And admittedly, these are likely not much better than regular potato chips…so definitely they count as a treat).
- Dark chocolate chips and raisins (you can add coconut flakes and pumpkin seeds too)!
- Fruit To Go bars.
4. Keep their lunch bags clean.
Don’t take this personally, I know it seems obvious but washing the kids’ lunch bags occasionally is important.
My kids are lucky if I do it twice a year but that is just not often enough.
There are few better ways to ruin an appetite than to open your lunch to the smell of spoiled yogurt or old stew that is hiding in the folded corners of the lunch bag.
So every couple of weeks, throw that smelly bag into the wash so that you have one less thing deterring the kids from eating their lunches.
5. Get them to help with planning and packing.
If you haven’t seen the amazing thing that happens when you actually get the kids to make a meal, I will tell you right now: When they help make it, they are much more likely to eat it!
Give them a paring knife and a cutting board and ask them to cut up the yellow pepper or the apple. Lay out the recipe and ingredients for Flax Snax and have them mix it together. Or just simply ask them to go to the fridge and choose which fruits and veggies they want today.
Getting the kids involved helps them build the skills of meal planning, choosing healthy food and in the end, they are more excited to eat what they chose.
6. Rotate the options and keep it simple.
There are times when a specific snack is a huge hit. They beg you to put it in their lunch. And this lasts for weeks. Until suddenly, it comes home untouched for three days in a row.
What is happening? I thought I had the lunch menu perfect?
Nope, it’s time for a change…again.
To make these changes doable, I recommend keeping it simple in general. Instead of offering the choice of three fruits (a few strawberries, half of a peach and half an apple), give them an apple (cut up or whole) until they are done with apples. Then move on to peaches. A few weeks later, just give berries.
This will make it much easier on you to find new options when they are sick of the old ones.
7. Whatever they don’t at school, they eat at home.
This is my favourite tip of them all. We are feeding the kids nutritious foods for a reason. So we need to see them eat it!
If your child chooses to forego their healthy food at school, it becomes the after school snack or a side dish at dinner.
Simple but awesome.
I hope these ideas have been helpful for you. If your kids are giving you a hard time about eating their healthy school lunch, do not give up. This is your opportunity to show your child how to make wise decisions about food even (and especially) when many of their friends and classmates are not as lucky.
Obviously, showing your family how to live healthfully can be overwhelming sometimes. Knowing how much you should be eating, how much exercise is enough (or too much) and figuring out how to get everyone on board can feel frustrating. That is why I work closely with my nutrition consulting clients, to help you create a healthy lifestyle that you love and that you can sustain. Connect with me HERE.