Packing school lunches that get eaten!
Let’s face it. Kids have a developing palette and that can mean preparing food they like to eat and will eat are not the easiest tasks to accomplish.

By Wendi Ostroff

Plus, feeding them healthful foods in conjunction with their version of “good” foods like chips or cookies, adds to the challenge.

By continuing to introduce new flavors and textures through a diversity of foods, kids will eventually eat a variety of foods. It may seem like a long way away when any divergence from pasta with butter is a big deal, but they will get there.

Below you’ll find suggestions for meal ideas, ways to get them involved and how to prepare their own lunches. And these don’t have to be just for lunch.

Start with having them choose their own lunchbox
• Sit down together to make a list of their favorite foods, and try to get them to include from the different food groups (i.e., fruits and veggies- usually fresh, but dried fruits are a good alternative)
• Get creative with different containers, cutting things differently, mix up colors of foods

Depending on whether your child has any food allergies, some of the foods may not be suitable. Same goes for vegetarians or kids with gluten sensitivities.

And feel free to mix and match these meal ideas-

Hummus, crackers, carrots, celery sticks, fruit (and change it up on the daily, depending on season and preference)
• Variation of the PBJ- try almond butter, sunflower butter, cashew butter, tahini, then try different types of jam or honey, add tortilla chips, grapes or berries, and cherry tomatoes or other small veggies they will eat
• Hard boiled eggs- the perfect protein- combine with any fruit or veggie with ranch dressing dip
• Hummus with crackers, celery sticks, red pepper, and carrots, then add fruit
• Mac & cheese- can be pesto, pasta & butter, sesame noodles- try bowties, fusilli, or other twisty shape, can be hot or cold
• Make mini-kebabs- pick any 3-4 favorite veggies such as peppers, tomatoes, cheese chunks, can have trail mix on the side and fruit
• Wraps- here you have lots of variety, starting with simple sliced turkey and cheese, or cream cheese and chopped veggies (they won’t taste them in the cream cheese as much) roll them up and slice into bite-sized pieces
• How about the one that’s been around for a while- celery with peanut butter and raisins (aka ants on a log) pair it up with crackers or tortilla chips, and some fruit (fresh or dried)
• Yogurt & fruit, can add granola or a handful of nuts, and make it breakfast for lunch
• Keep trying to fold in new things: edamame, cucumber, cold pasta salad, dried seaweed, any nuts or seeds, and the list continues

Lastly, by the time your child is in about 5th grade, show them how to make lunches and they can start preparing them for themselves. Some things can be prepared the night before, and some the morning of, but it’s a great new responsibility for them and they have ownership when they make it themselves.

Showing kids how to eat healthy is a lifelong habit that will stay with them forever.

Bon Appetit!