Trying to find the perfect foods to pack for your kids’ lunches can be a real challenge. Here are five tips to help you find a new approach to school lunches your kids will love and actually eat lunch at school.
How to Get Your Kids to Eat Lunch at School
Kids like to feel involved. Have a family meeting and sit down and survey your kids on the foods they like to eat. Once you cover off the foods they like, use them to get creative. For example if they don’t seem to like sandwiches but love chicken and tortillas, stock up on chicken breasts when they are on sale and then roast or poach them on Sunday night for fresh sliced chicken wraps.
Ask them what they don’t like about items you have given them in the past. They might answer their sandwiches are always soggy, they don’t like the crusts, or the bread has “weird” things in it (common if it is whole grain). Identifying what is making them not want to eat their food will help you find ways to avoid it happening. You can try new bread, wrap veggies separately so they don’t get the bread soggy, or cut off the crusts.
Last but not least don’t just focus on “lunch” foods. Ask them about all of the foods they like and would they consider having it to eat lunch at school. You can send food to school in a thermos to offer warm lunches they enjoy such as soups, chilli, pasta, and macaroni and cheese.
Consider taking your kids for a trip to the grocery store, not to shop, but to explore. Look at the different types of produce, ask for samples of cheese and deli meats at the deli counter, purchase a single fruit or veggie they seem interested in, and peruse the frozen food section to get ideas. Together you might stumble upon some new ideas that neither of you had considered.
Try cooking some healthy snacks together such as muffins, cookies, and bars. Mix up some nut-free trail mix with an assortment of dried fruits and even favourite cereals and let them choose the items they like the most. Slice and dice fresh fruit and veggies or let them create some new, fun wrap ideas. You will pique their interest in food which might encourage them to enjoy it more.
You see them in the grocery store each week setting up their little microwaves and griddles and putting out samples of the latest snacks, frozen foods, and drinks: The taste testers. You can have a lot of fun with the kids planning a taste test with different foods each week. This is a great thing to do after your trip to the grocery store as you may have a nice little list of foods in which they showed interest. Have fun and set up little plates with samples and have them taste the items. Take note of ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ and then you can build a better repertoire of food faves they will enjoy throughout the week. Get creative and look for all kinds of choices so they begin to enjoy food beyond the things they think they “love”.
Make Lunch Fun:
Let’s face it. Packed lunches tend to be boring. Look at more fun ideas that might make the food more enticing. Create yummy wraps by layering turkey, cheese, and avocado and rolling it up nice and tight. Slice it into bite sized pieces for a delicious option. Or look for lunches they can put together on their own such as fajitas with cold chicken, salsa, lettuce, and cheese or crackers and cheese with fruit. If you have the time (!) make little fruit skewers with a vanilla yogurt dip or create little platters of rolled deli meats, cheese cubes, and some veggies with dip. Offer hummus with pita triangles or let them toss their own salad. The more engaging the food, the more chance there is they might eat it.
Often the reason kids don’t eat their lunch is because they are bored or simply do not like what they have been given. By learning more about the foods they like, offering new options, and having fun with food you are certain to find options they will be happy to eat.