If PB&J and carrot sticks are getting less than stellar reviews from your child this school year, you’re not alone. Lots of parents are packing their kids’ lunches these days, both to make sure they making healthy food choices and to keep costs down. But coming up with new ideas for that brown bag or lunchbox five days a week can be a challenge. Here are some tips to make exciting and delicious lunches your kids will love.
1. Change up the bread.
Just because it’s a sandwich doesn’t mean it has to be between two slices of whole wheat. Try making cold cut sandwiches with wraps, which come in a variety of flavors, and slicing them into pinwheels. Or use raisin bread, waffles, or crackers to make sandwich-like options.
2. Make it bite-sized.
Kids, especially young kids, love finger foods. Grapes, cherry tomatoes, and baby carrots already come perfectly sized. Try cutting up other foods, like sausage and cheese, into baggies full of bite-sized portions too.
3. Get creative with shapes.
Sandwiches, cheese, cold cuts, and some vegetables can all be cut into fun shapes, like hearts and stars, that will make that plain old baloney sandwich into something delightful. Cookie cutters are excellent for this.
4. Include a surprise.
Once or twice a week, throw a little treat, like a cookie or a piece of candy, in with your child’s lunch. This reinforces the notion that treats are “sometimes foods,” and not knowing what they will find in their bag makes kids more excited about lunches.
5. Warm it up.
With the easy availability of kid friendly thermoses on the market, it’s never been simpler to include some soup or stew in your child’s lunch. Hot foods from home are perfectly comforting for chilly days at school.
6. Try apple sammies.
Not sure what to pack? Try an apple sammie, an easy and fun way to get your child to eat fruit at lunchtime. Cut an apple into rings and sandwich peanut butter and a few rolled oats between two of them for a tasty treat.
7. Branch out with bentos.
Japanese parents have packed bento boxes for their children for decades. Each box is made up of a number of small containers of food, and is usually dressed up to look cute. For example, include a few cheese stars, a few grapes, a few broccoli spears, and some little sausages. Your child will love it.
8. Make lunch DIY.
Try packing your child’s lunch disassembled and let him or her do the work to put it together. Include bread, sandwich ingredients, and a little sauce all packed separately and give your child free rein to arrange it how he or she likes.
9. Kabobs are fun!
Everything tastes better on a stick. Try putting small pieces of fruit, cheese, sausage, or anything else you can spear on bamboo skewer (be sure to cut the sharp end off). Kabobs make boring lunch ingredients fun again.
10. Get kids involved.
While you may be trying to get your picky eater to branch out, make sure you ask your kids what they would like and give them some input into what goes into their lunchbox. Try including three things you know they love and one unfamiliar item to try. Older children can help with packing their lunches the night before school. A brown bag lunch doesn’t have to be boring. With these tips, you can make your kids exciting lunches that they are sure to love. Make lunch fun this week!
Carla Haibi is a Geek and Arabic and English food blogger Loves Lebanese Food. Online content manager for Shahiya.com a Leading arabic recipe website in the Middle East.