Back to school comes with a lot of excitement, decisions, and purchases. Before long, reminders of “depositing money in your child’s lunch account” will arrive in your email. But school lunches don’t work well for our family. Last year I wrote about it here.
My kids don’t like a majority of what is offered, and they don’t get full on what they do eat, which leads to them getting two entrees or worse, coming home starving at 4:00, eating a HUGE snack, and ruining their dinners. Additionally, and more importantly, the nutrition value just isn’t there. This post isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to lunches. My kids will eat raw vegetables for dayyyz but throw them in a soup or casserole and they get suspicious fast.
So these are my tips for making school lunches and sticking with it:
- Do what works for YOU. We had one of the bento box style lunch boxes but the containers were sometimes limiting and didn’t always get washed as soon as they needed to. We use a lot of plastic bags, but it helps us stick to our routine.
- Know your kids! As I mentioned with the veggies, I know what my kids will and won’t eat, so use those preferences as starting points and build. Reinforce how their growing bodies need fruits and vegetables and water to be strong/ fast/ smart/ brave so they are motivated to adopt good habits early.
- Let kids help shop for, and plan the lunches. My kids know that they can get anything they want in the produce section of the store or at the farmer’s market. Kids like to be told yes, and they like to have some control. They know I’m not going to buy mini bags of chips or cookies so they don’t bother asking.
- Think creatively about “lunch”. Homemade trail mix, some whole grain crackers, and some cheese and fruit can easily replace a sandwich and chips as the favorite. Consider lettuce wraps or tortillas in lieu of bread and bagels.
- Make your own “lunchables” or other pre-packaged (see:overpriced) favorites. Let kids use cookie cutters to cut lunch meat and cheese into shapes, add a few crackers, and when they’re not looking, throw a surprise piece of candy in for dessert.
Have a great school year!