Kids are back in school – and that means moms are already looking for ideas to pack flavor and creativity into their child’s daily lunch experience. As you may remember from your days in the lunch room, that’s not easy!
Sarah Money is a registered dietician from Conway Regional Health System.
There’s nothing wrong with the traditional ham sandwich and frozen yogurt but, kids are craving ‘variety.’
• Today’s mom is forced to think “outside the lunchbox” more than ever.
• They’re balancing menus their kids will ENJOY – plus, HEALTHY food choices.
• Sometimes creativity and presentation are key.
• That helps create a beautiful visual display of a variety of foods for your child’s lunch, making it FUN.
• Plus, children get a sampling of protein, fruit, carbs, a snack and a sweet treat.
• Kids may find a new food they like – that they’ve never even tried in the past.
Let’s give moms some ideas here. What do you have?
The goal is to provide a balance of nutritional foods.
In this first lunch box, we’re offering:
• Turkey/ cheese rollups – this provides your protein and dairy…(helps curb the appetite)
• Fruit – grapes
• Veggie – cucumber + cherry tomatoes
• Greek yogurt ranch or hummus – This is part of what makes the lunchbox more fun – and filling. Instead of just a plain fruit or veggie offering.
• Sweet treat – M&Ms
(Second lunch box)
• Peanut butter and jelly – an old favorite that provides energy…
• Yogurt cup – this is the base for a parfait that you can add fruit or granola to kick it up a notch.
• Fruit – berries
Veggie – mini bell peppers
• Snack – goldfish
• Sweet treat – chocolate covered raisins
(Third lunch box)
• Protein – deli turkey rounds and cheese slices
• Fruit – strawberries
• Veggie – snap peas
• Snack – triscuits or your child’s favorite cracker (ritz will work)
• Sweet treat – mini black bean brownie
These are lunch box “hacks” in a sense. You’re using some familiar items and trying several new things as well.
I noticed your presentation – does that help add spice to lunch as well.
• These segmented lunch boxes are a trend right now.
• They help moms pack a neat and well-proportioned lunch for their child; and they keep the food in protected and in place, so items don’t get squashed before lunch time.
• But, you can achieve this same idea with different sized plastic containers that can be placed inside any traditional lunch box.
These lunches look pretty healthy for kids. How can parents encourage their child to try new foods, especially when they’re at school?
• It’s trial and error, but presentation can help make a huge difference.
• Our goal is to keep lunch interesting – visually and with different flavors every day.
• So, it takes planning.
• For example, many kids don’t like celery alone – but when you add peanut butter and raisins for “ants on a log” – celery gets much more exciting.
• When you can “dress up” a new food with a flavorful garnish or dip, it’s helpful.
• Consider taking kids to the grocery store with you to select a new food they want to try in their lunch box.
• If you tend to have a picky eater, you might pair the new food with something you know they like – dips, sauces, yogurt, etc. Once they realize they like it, you can always encourage them to try it without the dips.
• Keep in mind that texture plays a role in what kids like, so if you know what they ‘do’ or ‘don’t’ like about textures of certain foods, that may help in planning as well.
• Remember, kids have evolving taste buds, so they may not like a new food on the first or second try.
• Try re-introducing the food a different way next time; or make the introduction to the new food at home first.
• And, if kids see that you like the food and eat it regularly, they may be more open to trying it down the road.