In most things I like to use the K.I.S.S. method (Keep It Super Simple) . It keeps me happier, the kids become self-sufficient, and things get done. Dealing with school lunches could be the worst part of my day if I let it. These methods are what get us through a years worth of school lunches.
- Stock Up on the Stuff They Will Eat – I bring the kids shopping with me and let them pick out what they want in their lunch boxes. That doesn’t mean I say yes to fruit roll-ups, but I do let them choose one “dessert” item like peanut free granola bars or Bear Paws. Them choosing extends past the dessert items though. I also let them pick out the fruits, veggies, and sandwich meats and/or spreads that they want that week as well. There is no point buying things that the kids won’t eat. It either comes home in their lunch bags, is thrown away, or my favourite – is left to decompose in the depths of their school bags until the smell or wet spot alerts you to their presence.
- Get Baking – This isn’t an option for everyone, because some schools won’t allow home-baked goods because of allergies. If it is allowed in your kids class, spend an hour on the weekend baking up some muffins. Our favourites are Classic Pumpkin Muffins or Apple Strudel muffins. Once I find my recipe for the Apple muffins I’ll post it. It’s a good one.
- Keep Snacks Portable – My kids can’t bring containers on the playground so snacks have to be in bags that are easy to tuck into pant pockets, or come in disposable packaging. Apples and cheese sticks win as the kids favourites, but we also stock up on Snapea Crisps which are crunchy, salty and a healthier alternative to chips and crackers.
- Have Kids Pack Their Own Bag – My kids have finally reached the point where they can now pack their own lunches. I still offer aid when needed, and on hot soup days, but for the most part what goes into their lunch boxes is up to them. I have almost no half eaten lunches come back since the day they took over packing their own lunches.
By offering up healthier options of foods you children already enjoy you give them control of their lunch. It not only encourages them to eat everything it helps to set them on the road to independence. While you may not be able to completely hand over the reins, it sure makes the morning rush easier when you have one, or five fewer things to do.
How do you make school lunches special?