Well parents, it’s that time of year again. Back to school, which means back to structure, back to routine, and back to - ugh - the dreaded packing of lunches. Now maybe I’m in the minority here, but I can honestly say that packing lunches is my least favourite task as a parent.
Maybe because it means getting back into the kitchen right after I’ve just finished cleaning up from dinner, or perhaps it’s because of the mommy-guilt that comes along with not packing a Pinterest-worthy lunch every day, complete with radishes cut into roses and smiley faces on the grapes. The struggle is real! It’s not always easy to come up with healthy, affordable & quick lunch options that the kids will actually eat!
As a mom of a couple of tweens, I’ve made a few lunches in my time and I’ve learned many lessons—some from great successes, and some from epic flops! One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned and wish I figured out earlier in life is that one way to ensure your children will actually eat and enjoy what is in their lunch bags is to get them in the kitchen to prepare it themselves! I think that sometimes we forget that our children are far more brilliant and capable than we give them credit for. I mean, think about it: if this were the late 1800s, my 12-year-old would be managing the family farm! I think he can handle slapping some cream cheese on a bagel! When I relinquished the duty of lunch assembly to the children, guess what? They were just fine and my life got just a little bit easier.
Now, I don’t suggest just letting your children loose in your kitchen with zero direction or structure. I can only imagine if my one sweet-toothed child was allowed to just go wild with whatever went in her lunch - I would’ve definitely gotten a call from the school to come and scrape her off the ceiling! Children need some boundaries to work within. We established a structure that they needed to abide by, and then once they were done creating their masterpiece lunches I would do a “Mom check”. You might consider posting a checklist on your fridge for them to reference while they’re making their lunches. Here’s what our checklist looked like:
✓ 1 sandwich, wrap, stuffed pita, etc.
✓ 1 fruit
✓ 1 vegetable (little ones will probably need some help cutting their veggies)
✓ 1 healthy snack: yogurt, sliced cheese, crackers, popcorn, tortillas & salsa
✓ 1 sweet treat: granola bar, cookie, etc.
✓ Bottle of water
After a while, they didn’t even need to reference the check-list and I really didn’t even have to execute my “Mom check.” With them making their own lunches, not only have I taken one task off my long list of things to do, but I have equipped my children with knowledge of healthy eating and life-skills that will benefit them as they continue in life. Win-win!
Here are some quick kid-approved lunch ideas that we use in our home that are easy for kids to assemble!
These little guys are great for time-saving. I make the filling ahead of time and let the children assemble the rest.
▪ ½ cup cream cheese softened
▪ 3 tablespoons mild salsa
▪ ¼ cup chopped peppers
▪ ½ cup grated cheddar cheese
▪ ¼ tsp chili powder ▪ 4 tortillas (6 inch)
Kids love to play with their food! These fruit-kabobs are fun and easy to prepare at any age and delicious to eat! Hit your local party-supply store or the dollar store and grab some wooden skewers and you’re ready to go! Tip: part of my routine when I buy groceries is as soon as I get home, I cut up all the fruit I purchased into bite-sized pieces and store them in a container to make assembly for these kabobs (or simply grabbing a healthy snack) quick and easy.
Mini-pitas are perfect for packing lots of nutrition into a fun little pocket! Simply open the pita to create a little pocket and fill with your child’s fave veggies like cucumber, greens, sprouts, and peppers along with a protein source like Mark’s Nearly Famous nitrate-free black forest ham, Raincoast Trading tuna, or some yummy hummus!
This article was written by Lindsay McFarland, Goodness Me! marketing manager and mother of two. You can find it and many other articles and recipes in the Fall 2017 issue ofNourish, available for free at all Goodness Me! locations!