Exciting School Lunch Ideas

Written By: Mary M. Alward
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Earlier this week I had reason to drop by my grandsons' school at lunch time. While waiting for the boys outside the office, I was appalled to see several students throw their lunches into the trash can. Several questions ran through my mind. What would their parents say if they knew the kids lunches were going in the garbage? What were these kids going to eat? How could the kids learn if they didn't have the proper nutrition?

Of course parents have no way of knowing if kids are eating their lunch. However, there are a few tricks that a parent can use to make school lunches more appealing.

Tricks and Tips

Set nutritional guidelines and ask your child to make a list of the foods he would like included in his lunch. Another option is to take your child grocery shopping and allow him to choose foods for his school lunches. Allow him one snack per week outside of the nutritional guidelines. Choosing his own lunch foods will allow your child to feel he has some control over what eats at school. This in turn encourages him to look forward to lunch time.

If you send carrot or celery sticks in your child's lunch, be sure to send salad dressing, cheese spread or peanut butter for dipping. (Remember to check with the school before sending peanut butter, as some children have severe allergies to nuts.) Vegetables are more likely to be eaten when they're dressed up a little.

For young children, sandwiches cut into shapes with a cookie cutter will make lunch time fun. It's more fun to eat a star or a zoo animal than it is to eat two slices of bread with some sort of filling.

Use your imagination! Instead of sending the same type of sandwich every day, send a variety of things. Apple jelly or apple butter is a welcome treat. Cream cheese with blueberries or banana slices adds a bit of zing to sandwiches.

Purchase colorful and unique lunch containers and use them instead of sandwich bags. Lunch containers come in a variety of shapes. If your child loves animals decorate a plain container with animal stickers. This will make lunch time a little more exciting, especially if you dress up a few inexpensive plastic containers. Always keep a surplus of stickers on hand, as they will come off when containers are washed.

Allow your child to choose an insulated lunch bag and cold packs of his choice. These will help keep his lunch cold. Juice boxes can be frozen. If you decide to freeze juice boxes, wrap them or slip them inside a sandwich bag, as condensation forms as they thaw.

Purchase colored bread for special occasions. Bakeries will make colored bread to order and it's only a few cents more per loaf than regular bread. Example: Green bread for St. Patrick's Day.

Include a special treat for holidays. Chinese New Year is a great day to send a fortune cookie. On Valentine's Day, send a heart-shaped muffin.

Food Ideas

Kiwi or star fruit.

Chinese pear.

Nuts (Remember to check with your child's school.)

Hard boiled egg.

Dried fruit.

Popcorn.

Sugar peas with salad dressing dip.

Apple slices and cheese.

Trail mix or pretzels.

Low fat lunch meat wrapped around a cheese-filled celery stick.

Smoothie.

Melon cubes or slices.

Baked beans or chili.

Lunch Recipe

Ingredients

Ham.

Pineapple chunks.

Cheese cubes.

Toothpicks.

Method

Assemble as follows:

Cheese cube, ham square, pineapple chunk.

Kids will love these. Different fruit and a variety of cheeses can be used. Tofu can be substituted for cheese, if desired.

Make your child's school lunches something to look forward to. There's no guarantee that your child will eat his lunch no matter what is in it. However, if it is appealing chances are it will not find its way to the trash can.

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