What's For Lunch? Simple Ideas That Kids Will Eat

healthy-kids-lunch

I will be the first to the admit that I am not the most creative when it comes to preparing school lunches for my kids. With the morning frenzy of getting kids ready for school, making sure that everyone eats a suitable breakfast, etc., packing school lunches has to be as basic as possible.  

While my kids may not go to school with Pinterest-worthy lunch boxes filled with sandwiches and treats that resemble cute baby animals, I do try to ensure that they are getting a nutritious variety of food that they will want to eat.  

At school, lunchtime often competes with playground time and socializing with friends, so I find that packing foods that are accessible and simple are often the things my kids gravitate toward.  

In general, kids will choose foods that seem both appealing and familiar, so I try to keep this in mind when choosing what to pack in their school lunches.  

Any other mamas out there ever take the time to prepare a beautiful, delicious school lunch for your kiddo (maybe even something better than you would prepare for yourself), only to find them returning home with most of the items still in their lunch box? Ugh, yes, which makes me wonder, “What exactly did you eat today?”

So opting for simple, familiar, and appealing seems to make for a winning combination when it comes to packing school lunches that my kids will actually eat.

If you have found yourself stuck in a rut or hitting a wall when it comes to packing a healthy school lunch that won’t come back home uneaten, check out these easy tips!

Tips for Packing a Healthy Kids Lunch

1. Include a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fats to keep kids’ tummies satisfied

Aim to include food combinations that include these macronutrients to help pack a nutritional punch!  

Examples might include:

  • Greek yogurt with berries
  • Cheese and whole grain crackers
  • Trail mix
  • Hummus with veggie sticks
  • Graham crackers with peanut butter

2. Make it fun - let them dip and dunk!

If my kids have the option to dip their food into something, chances are they will eat it (or at least try it). Send a small container of something “dippable” that your kids can dunk their fruits, veggies, or snacks into.

Easy options include:

  • Fruit slices with yogurt or nut/seed butter for dipping
  • Veggie sticks with their favorite dressing or hummus
  • Chips with guacamole, salsa, or bean dip,  
  • Whole grain crackers in veggie soup

3. Try a bento-style lunch box for lunch packing made easy

This year, I had the opportunity to try out the PlanetBox bento-style lunch box and have loved how this has simplified lunch planning and packing.  

These lunch boxes are stainless steel containers that offer a variety of compartments, making it easy and fun to put lunch options together.  Not to mention, having one place to put a variety of foods allows me to customize my daughter’s lunch without having to use multiple containers or plastic baggies.  

You can see an idea of how we use her PlanetBox to pack a quick and healthy lunch, which she loves to help with too. Bento-style lunch boxes help simplify lunch packing.  There are a variety of options to choose from that can help you create healthy lunches in an easy way.

school-lunch-ideas

4. Combine familiar foods with new foods

You may be eager to get your child to try something new or find a way to get in more veggies, only to find that these foods always come home.  Don’t despair!

Research has shown that kids need repeated exposure to a new food to consider trying or even accepting, so don’t give up if something doesn’t go over well the first time.  

Offering new foods, or foods that may not be as favored, along with foods your child is comfortable with, may increase their willingness to try out something new!

5. Get kids involved!  

Your child will be more likely to eat something that they had a say in choosing or preparing. Planning lunches out the night before can give you more time to involve your child, rather that during the morning rush before school.  

Give your child options, like which fruit they want or they type of sandwich they prefer. Let your child have the chance to assemble something for their lunch as well.

This will help them feel empowered about their food choices and create positive connections around meal preparation and lunch packing.

What are your favorite tips or suggestions for packing healthy lunches for your kiddos?

 

 

 

Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC

Crystal Karges Nutrition

Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC is a San Diego-based private practice dietitian helping others embrace their health for themselves and their loved ones.  Focusing on maternal/child health and eating disorders, Crystal creates the nurturing, safe environment that is needed to help guide individuals towards a peaceful relationship with food and their bodies.