As a public school kid, school lunches were free and simple. We looked forward to pizza day and I never touched the canned fruit. My mom never asked if I liked my lunch, or how much of it I actually ate. Somehow, I was nourished, and somehow, I survived. We live in completely different times. We are putting more thought into what we feed our children, and for good reason. I try to feed my kids as healthy as possible, but I never deny them an occasional Happy Meal or delicious candy. I just make sure the core of their diet is balanced and is made up of actual real food.
Elle recently stated Kindergarten, and I find myself packing lunch four times a week, and a snack five times a week. I thought I would dread packing lunches, and that it would become just one more thing to do. However, I’ve been enjoying prepping her lunch, being in control of what she eats, and giving her better options at lunch time. I’m only few weeks in so maybe I shouldn’t speak prematurely, but for now I’m having fun packing her food and I want her to feel loved 1/2 through her day even when I’m not with her.
I started posting her lunches and have gotten an overwhelming response to them. I think we are all in the same boat and need ideas and inspiration. I will continue to attempt to post them daily, but here are some tips I can offer…
1.) Pack light. At first I was packing an abundance of items in her lunch and she was coming home with ½ her lunch untouched and wasted. Wasting food is a big pet peeve of mine, so I knew this would not fly. I started packing fewer choices and less quantity because I found that Elle lacked the time to finish what I packed, even if she liked it all. She’s naturally a slow eater and a talented chatter box, so I’m sure that the lack of time is her own doing. I recommend packing less, experiment to see how much they eat, and less variety means they get through more of what you packed.
2.) Bento it. I’m currently obsessed with stainless steel bento boxes. I love the ones by “Lunch Bots” (lunchbots.com). I have a few with different compartment sizes, they are on the pricier side but will last all through grade school. I like portion control, I like the presentation, and I like that they are plastic free. I use a thin ice pack https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B075DYNT4Y/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
on the bottom of her insulated lunch bag to keep her food fresh.
3.) Make it cute. Kids like cute food (shoot, I do too). A fun cute looking lunch is more likely to be eaten. You don’t have to be a Pinterest Queen to pack a cute lunch. Use cookie cutters to cut a cute sandwich or even just fun little food picks stabbed into the food (https://www.amazon.com/AIEX-Bento-Decoration-Animals-Picks/dp/B0754H449D/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1535389127&sr=8-17&keywords=food+picks)
Here is the cute lunch starter pack https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Bento-Lunch-Supplies-Accessories/dp/B075KPZ1KH/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1535389252&sr=8-5&keywords=food+picks
4.) Keep it simple. Don’t complicate yourself, lunch can be series of simple foods, rolled turkey and cheese, chopped fruit, or left overs. You know what your child eats, so if they eat cheese and crackers, then pack them cheese and crackers. I suggest making sure the crackers are whole-grain and sneaking a nutrient packed drink. Most picky kids grow out of it (former picky kid here).
So don’t get too caught up on” Instgaramble Pinterest Lunches,” the point is to feed your kid midday, let’s not forget that. When you have time, make lunch count, and when you don’t, well, just get it together. We all survived on mystery meat and chocolate milk, and we’re all still here and thriving