Making lunches for your kids can be a thankless job, but it doesn’t have to be. With these tips, we can reduce food waste, your kids can eat foods that they enjoy, and make the whole lunch making experience fun for us all!
- Get your kids involved!
Whether your child is in kindergarten, grade 12, or post-secondary school, it is essential for them to be engaged in making their lunch. While we as mothers (or fathers) think we are being kind when we make our children’s lunches, we are not empowering them to learn how to make their own lunch. By getting them involved, you can turn this experience into a learning opportunity by simply doing instead of preaching about nutrition.
- Give your kids options.
Get them to choose their fruits and vegetables, grains, and meat and alternatives. They will learn that this is the routine and you will not have to waste your breath preaching about why they need to eat balanced.
- Spend 10 minutes mapping out your week with your family.
We’ve been doing this for 2 years and it has certainly made a difference for all of us. Part of what we discuss is our schedule, then we quickly talk about what we want to have for our lunches. We then make a list for grocery shopping.
- Take your kids grocery shopping.
While you may be familiar with what fruits and vegetables are in season before you go to the store, you may find something on sale that is different than what you had on your list. Exposing your child to new foods will help them be more open to trying new things. This is especially helpful for picky eaters! Have your child pick a new fruit or vegetable and think of ways to make it at home. These simple activities will help them learn many transferable skills!
- Make it fun!
Get out the cookie cutters, toothpicks, skewers, and different containers so the kids can decide what we are going to create. While this may seem daunting, it actually doesn’t take long, as my kids have learned what their favorites are and seem to stick to it.
- Lunch can be more than sandwiches.
- Freeze homemade soup, leftovers or pasta in individual containers to pull out of the freezer the night before. Thaw them in the fridge over night. Get an insulated thermos. Place hot water in the thermos and let sit for few minutes to heat up. Heat your pasta, leftovers or soup very hot in the microwave and place in the thermos. My kids love a hot lunch, especially in the wintertime!
- Bento box lunches. This is a lunch where you have different little containers filled with food shaped in fun pieces. You can get special lunch kits for this, place in individual containers or use muffin liners to separate the foods!
- Minimize your intake of processed lunch options.
We would encourage you to look at what you currently buy for lunches right now and see what food group they fit into. Fruit roll ups, fruit bars, granola bars, cookies, and juice boxes are all easily replaceable with cheaper and more wholesome choices. Our bodies are made to digest food. The more processed the foods, the faster it goes through our system and the sooner we want to eat again. We are not against any of the above items, but if they are a main stay in your pantry, you may want to consider making some alternative choices. Highly processed foods don’t leave them satisfied, which has a negative impact on their attention span at school, especially in the afternoon.
- Do not make treats the forbidden fruit.
This could simply back fire over time and create a more distorted relationship with food. We have taught our kids the rule about 1 treat per day. We have defined what a treat is in our house (typically ice cream, homemade cookies, cake, or puffed wheat squares) and while they are normal children and occasionally try to negotiate for more, 80% of the time, they are managing it on their own without much involvement.
- Pack your child two lunches if they have extracurricular activities after school.
Especially if these activities interfere with dinnertime! Many parents tell us they don’t have any other option but to buy fast food on certain days of the week, otherwise their children will not be able to eat prior to their activity. If you can relate to this, you are definitely not alone. The good news is that there are other options than the drive through. The simplest solution to this is to make two lunches for the days you know you are going to be running late. This is where having your kids involved in the process pays off because they can decide what they want to make for both meals and you will have less arguments when you are rushing out the door. It will save you money, stress, time in line-ups, and you won’t feel guilty as a parent because you made your child a wholesome meal instead of feeding them fast food.
Revive Wellness Inc.