With another new school year upon us, it’s time to start thinking about creative ways to make fun, school lunches our children will actually eat.
Far too often parents send their kids off with a yummy and thoughtful lunch, only to have a slightly smellier and stale version returned to them at the end of the day.
But there are ways to get children to gobble up every crumb of their school lunches with a few creative solutions. Coming up with cleverly planned out options will satisfy both you and your little ones.
In Holy Cross Services’ commitment to helping families live healthy and independent lifestyles, we’re taking a look at how traditional menu items can be turned into finger foods and fun snacks for your children.
Using leftovers to spice up the lunchbox and creating visually appealing snacks are proven ways to reduce your food budget, while ensuring your hard work pays off by ending up in your children’s bellies — not the garbage can.
Making dinner with the next day’s lunch in mind is one of the best ways to get into a healthy, inexpensive routine. Leftovers are often scoffed at by children, but this is where your creativity can go a long way.
Make extra meatballs with your spaghetti dinner and then slice up the extras and pop them into a small bun for a meatball sandwich. Similarly, make lots of rice or quinoa and turn the leftovers into a delicious fresh salad for the next day.
Instead of a pasta salad, use your grains to mix up a dish of diced tomatoes, cucumber and carrots. Drizzle it with a simple olive oil dressing. When vegetables are out of season, whip up stews and hearty soups that can be put into thermoses and sent to school the next day.
As far as snacks go, finger foods are extremely popular with kids. There are so many ways to brighten up your lunch with the right vegetables, while turning traditional items into fun new shapes.
Try turning your deli meats into fun roll-up snacks with a simple slice of cheese and a piece of lettuce. If you don’t want to include a sandwich, roll up your deli and cheese inside a whole-wheat tortilla and make an even heartier snack. Either way, they’re tiny hand treats kids will love.
Sticking with the theme of planning ahead, you can also make loads of popcorn for late-night snacks and then bag whatever you have left. Popcorn can be stored for the week in bags and it makes for the perfect snack every day.
With fruits and vegetables, make sure you break everything down into hand-sized chunks. Core and slice apples, peel and pull apart oranges. Cut raw vegetables into bite-size pieces. Try to use what’s in season for as long as you can when it comes to fruits and vegetables. The taste is better and so is the price. In the off season, you can offer dried fruit, like raisins and cranberries.
There are many ways to make your children’s lunches more enticing when the school year starts once again. Whatever approach you take with your children’s lunchboxes this school year, just know there are plenty of options out there when it comes to making fun mid-day meals for your youngsters. With a little planning, they’ll come home more often with empty lunchboxes.