Lunch time…it’s back to school!
For some, back to school often rhymes with headache, more specifically in the current context where going back to school is quite different from other years! Many parents or even adults lack inspiration when it comes to lunches, that it be because of lack of time to plan or simply the lack of ideas.
I know I’ve made quite a few lunches when it comes to my family including my three boys! Add full time job and picky eaters to the equation and it’s not always easy. However, involving them in the process is probably what has been the key to my success while adding some fun to the task.
Preparing lunch, especially when we not only want a nutritious meal but also to make sure it doesn’t come back, should not be a difficult task. Here are some ways that can help, considering I’ve had my share of experience …
There are a few important elements to remember when preparing a lunch, but, for starters, how well are you prepared? You’ll need a lunch bag, thermos, ice-pack and some containers. It is also important to consider restrictions (nut-free environment for example) or if there is access to a refrigerator or microwave.
Meal prep with the kids
Something I often teach my clients is: cook once, eat twice! Always make double or even triple portions at supper. Some for lunches and some to freeze. Create a nightly routine where one parent cleans up while the other prepares lunches WITH the kids. Teens can help with their siblings’ lunch too. Older children love preparing veggie sticks!
Meals do not always have to be complicated. I’ve realized that younger kids enjoy small bite size lunches. Here are some examples:
- Some cubed ham and cheese, carrot sticks with some dip and whole wheat crackers.
- A whole wheat tortilla chicken wrap cut in wheels with leftover salad or those crudities that you’ll have prepared while making Sunday night supper.
- My favourite idea to share is: prepare 2-6 hard boiled eggs, write the date on the shell (in case you forget about them!) and keep them refrigerated in a container for those busy nights. Add some crudities, a whole wheat pita and you have a meal!
Let your kids decide
Making lunches the day before gives you more sleep-in time in the morning or room for a 20-minute jog. Let each member decide what goes into their lunch box. As parents, we can make sure the meal is well balanced and includes veggies, fruit, protein and a starch. Making it fun means that you can allow a chocolate chip cookie to accompany the fruit. Give them a choice and a picky eater won’t be as picky after all!
Finally, I suggest you have a lunch corner in your cupboard. Keep everything there for easy access to the snacks. Of course, homemade is always better but fruit pouches, fruits salads, dried fruit packs, granola bars, nuts or dried chickpeas are my go to.
There will be perfect days and some not so perfect days. That’s ok! Be consistent and it can become fun. Remember that planning ahead is what works best but having a plan for those busy homework nights will make it that much easier.