The kids are headed back to school and for many of you this means packing school lunches every day. If you are lucky enough to have a child that eats anything and everything in his lunch box, congratulations! If not, you may be looking for ways to jazz up the school lunch box so that your child is excited to eat everything you send with him. Read on to learn my favorite seven ways to add a little surprise to your child's lunch, so there's less of a chance that food will go to waste.
Tip #1: Give them Options
Give your child creative control of their lunchbox choices. A great way to do this is by having a “menu” on your refrigerator door. Give your child a couple of main course choices, followed by their choice from several different fruits, veggies, side dishes and beverages. By simply giving your child control over the foods that they have for lunch, you have a much better chance of the lunchbox coming home empty.
Tip #2: Make It Fun
Lunch can be much more than food for energy, it can also be fun. Jazz up your child’s lunch by cutting sandwiches into fun shapes using cookie cutters, skewer cheese cubes and fruits on reusable cocktail sticks or arrange your child’s homemade pizza into a smiley face. The idea to make the meal look fun, encouraging your child to eat it.
Tip #3: Pick a Perfect Lunch Box
I know from experience that a bad lunch box can have a direct impact on whether or not your child eats their lunch. My son had a divided lunch box that I thought would be perfect for keeping his sandwich, fruit and vegetables separate – the problem, when the lunch box was tipped on its side to be carried to school, the juice from his strawberries or mandarin oranges would run into the sandwich area, surprising him with a soggy lunch. Deal breaker. Invest in a great stainless steel, reusable lunch box that has dividers that don’t allow liquids to run or that come with smaller sealed containers for wet foods.
Tip #4: Make Your Child’s Day
Sometimes your child just needs a little love and encouragement during the school day and lunch is the perfect time to reconnect with your child. I like to write cute little notes or games on scrap pieces of paper and hide them in my son’s lunch box. When I first starting packing them, I wasn’t sure if he even noticed, then one day while putting his clothes away, I came across his stash of Mom love notes.
Tip #5: Make it Together
You have heard that when children grow their own vegetables, they are more eager to try new ones. The same concept works for school lunch, encourage your child to help you cook or prepare the meals that you will send to school with them. This will give you an inside as to what your child likes – for example while making almond butter and jelly sandwiches for my son’s lunch, he showed me that he doesn’t like a lot of almond butter.
Tip #6: Some Like it Hot
If you send your child a sandwich everyday for school, you may want to mix it up with hot meals too. It is easy to send hot soup, pastas and even leftovers if you have a great thermos for your child to use. You may be surprised to find out that your child just isn’t a fan of sandwiches or cold lunches and when you start to send hot meals, the lunch box may come back empty at the end of the day.
Tip#7: Offer a Reward
Sometimes it isn’t the lunch itself, that is the reason that your child doesn’t eat it. My son loves to chat, and many times he will talk so much during lunchtime that he will simply forget or not have enough time to eat. A great way to encourage children to eat their lunch is by offering a small reward when they come home. I like to reward my son with 15 more minutes of reading time before bed, or a special after dinner activity together – something easy like taking a walk together or snuggling on the sofa. The rewards are always things that I would do with him anyway, however when they are packaged as special rewards they just seem more awesome.
How do you encourage your child to eat their school lunch?
Lead Image © Dee Adams via Flickr