Does your child have a lunch style? Maybe it's time to get one! Explore 5 approaches to healthy lunch packing and find your kid's style.
You may or may not realize that your child has lunch style or two or three. These ideas may help bring out your child's favorite way to munch in the lunch room. With all of these approaches, remember to keep it fresh, simple and in season! Be sure to pack fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy and protein in every lunch. Ready? Let's find your Lunch Style!
1. Tapas taster
Who doesn’t love little party appetizers? Miniature foods are always a hit with kids. This style of lunch packing is perfect for the kid who likes to eat a little bit of this and that. They like different shapes, colors and textures. A picky eater will appreciate the variety. Small portions of lots of foods are less intimidating. Tapas makes it easy to pack a well balanced meal. Select foods from each food group and get creative! Staple foods for tapas style lunches: whole grain crackers, cheese cubes, yogurt, baby carrots and other raw veggies (with dip), fruit slices, lean deli meats, hummus, nuts and dried fruit. Make fun shapes and keep it colorful. Need inspiration? Check out our sandwich-free Pinterest board.
2. Picky choosy
Let’s face it, if a child opens his lunch box to find an array of unfamiliar or “yucky” foods, he’s likely to turn to his friend to see if he can mooch off his lunch instead. We all want our kids to eat well and improve their diets but pushing too much will probably backfire. Instead, make a lunch that he'll want to eat. Lunch is an opportunity to introduce new foods. Do this in a stress-free way by packing a majority of foods that your child likes and will eat and add a new food to the mix once or twice a week. See what comes back and keep adjusting. Soon your child’s lunch repertoire will include some new healthy options. Stick to the basic comfort foods like applesauce, yogurt, cheese, and crackers and get creative by adding seasonal fruits and veggies or whatever your child’s challenge foods may be. The more colorful the more nutritious!
3. Sandwich lover
Your little sandwich lover may not be interested in anything other than those two slices of bread and whatever is inside. Don’t be discouraged. There’s an upside to sandwich style lunches. There are easy ways to make them more nutritionally balanced. Get creative! The more colorful your sandwich or pinwheel the more inviting and nutritious. Kids like things in miniature so try cubing her sandwich (exposing those color combos), make fun shapes or go the pinwheel route. If it seems like a lot of effort and time, just give it a try. You’ll see it takes just one minute to create lunch art! Having these foods handy will be a huge help: shredded veggies like carrots, purple cabbage, iceberg lettuce. These veggies will add crunch, color and taste. Baby spinach, herbs like basil and arugula are great options too. Spreads such as cream cheese, hummus and pesto are creamy and packed with nutrients. All of these “extras” can turn a turkey or ham sandwich into a colorful and healthier meal. A tip to create pinwheels: use already thin whole wheat tortillas or use rolling pin to flatten your sliced bread prior to adding your filling and rolling. Try something different and combine savory and sweet - Have you ever tried a peanut butter or nutella and banana pinwheel? Sprinkle a few walnuts for a nice crunch! It tastes like dessert but it’s packed with potassium and protein. More pinwheel ideas.
4. Little dipper
This kid will eat almost anything if she can dip it in ranch dressing. Still, you’re not sure that your little dipper is eating a balanced meal. How then do you add variety? For starters, continue packing healthy dips that will encourage your child to eat more fruits and vegetables. Select healthy yogurt based dips and homemade dressings to avoid the sodium, sugar and bad oils. See if you can find dips that will add the extra nutrition that’s missing. The dip can even be the main course! Offer baby carrots, bell pepper strips and pita triangles with a protein-rich dip like hummus for a tasty and satisfying meal. An artichoke and spinach dip is a good source of iron. If your kid is stuck on one dip, ask for help in the kitchen and make new ones together! 5 healthy dip recipes.
5. Breakfast luncher
Some kids prefer one meal of the day over the others. If lunch isn’t that meal, why not turn breakfast or dinner into lunch? As long as it is fresh and well-balanced, it’s a healthy lunch. Make the most of the meals you prepare at home for the family and a prepare a little extra for lunch. Leftover pancakes, mini-quiches, grilled chicken, cutlets and pizza, to name a few, are all good options for lunch the next day. Make fruit salads, pasta salads and healthy whole grain-based salads and serve them all week long. Change up last night’s meal by including fresh fruits, yogurt, cheese and other favorites to keep it interesting.
Did you find your kid's lunch style? Share your ideas with us!