Sandwich? Check. Carrots? Check. Pudding? Check. Crackers? Check.
This daily checklist probably seems monotonous at this point in the school year. Your children are bored of their lunches and you are sick of packing the same thing — resulting in your children swapping for a sugary, pre-packaged pastry.
Check out some of these suggestions below to keep your kiddos entertained and feeling full for the day!
1. Swap out the sandwich
Sandwiches are not at all bad — given the right toppings, sandwiches can provide an excellent source of protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates for your kiddos, keeping them full for the rest of the day. However, they can get mundane. Try swapping the bread for a tortilla and making a wrap. This California Rollwich is designed specifically for kids. Or even these super simple Tortilla Roll Ups. If you want to skip the carbohydrates altogether, try these Ham and Cream Cheese Roll Ups.
2. Shape it up
Changing up the shapes of your kids' food will add a bit of excitement for them when they open up their lunchbox. Cutting cheese, ham or even sandwiches into shapes will give them an “awe” factor. Simply use cookie cutters to shape that boring sandwich into stars or use that ice cream scooper to scoop out spherical balls. Stay local and check out Merriment Party Good's selection.
3. Provide options
Whether you pack your kids' lunches in the morning or the night before, give them a couple of options to choose from. Turkey sandwich or ham roll up. Soup or pasta. Baked crackers or pretzels. The list is endless. Your kids will actually get what they want when lunch time rolls around, encouraging them to eat more of their lunch. Try to keep it as fresh as possible (carrots, sugar snap peas, ants on a log) for your kids and make sure there is enough food in your home to have variety.
4. Get your kiddos in the kitchen
Have your children help you with prep work or packing their lunches. If you let them lend a hand in creating their lunches for the week, life becomes easier for you and they are proud of their accomplishments. Use Sunday as a day for prepping lunches for the week — create your own healthy granola bars or start chopping up celery and carrots so it becomes easy to pack. Also, let them learn how to pack a lunch themselves and soon enough they will be extremely efficient in the kitchen.
5. Repurpose last night's dinner
Sure, it's easy to throw last night's leftover pizza into a bag for your children. But once again, we are back to making kid lunches boring and unhealthy. Use last night's chicken Caesar salad and make it into a wrap for lunch the next day. Leftovers are easy to pack, and they won't go to waste.
6. Include a sweet treat
For school lunches, pack a sweet treat, like a brownie or cookie. If they are distributed in moderation, they won't fill up your child if that is the first thing she eats. That means she will still have room for that wrap you made her. However, don't completely bag the sweets; you may just be encouraging your child to trade for more sugary items. Try some of these suggestions to keep your kids interested.
7. Think outside the bag
After you have found the perfect contents for your kids' lunch, finish it off right by packing it into reusable compartment container like this one. Not only will this save you some money on baggies, it will also help your child view their lunch differently — making them more excited to eat. If you are packing soup and afraid your child won't be able to make it through the morning without spilling, try this fun thermos from Target.