One of the biggest problems when coming up with healthy lunch ideas for your family is making sure your little ones will actually eat them! There is no point preparing a lunch, if your kids swap it with their classmates, or when at home, simply push it around the plate and hope you don’t notice.
One great way of getting around this is by making kids part of the healthy eating process. Getting them to start preparing their meals and at the same time educating them about healthy ingredients.
The key to this is to start off easy. Try something like a feta chicken roll-up with hummus or low-fat ranch dressing. The key is to pick something that will be fun for them to do (with supervision) and rolls-ups are always fun (but usually messy!). Pita bread is also a great, fun option for the kids. Help them make a tuna salad with light mayo, celery, and onion. An alternative to this is to add tomato and avocado instead. Your kids will have great fun stuffing this mix into a pita!
Although you will only provide healthy ingredients, let them make choices within healthy parameters. Ask them about the foods they would like to put into their wrap. Ask them why and describe a little bit about the nutritional value of the food at the same time. This means that kids are having fun and learning all at once!
When your kids have a little more knowledge about healthy foods, I think it’s a great idea to make them part of the menu organization for the week. You can start off small; just give them a few choices. Would they prefer carrot sticks or celery sticks? Which snacks would they like, hummus or salsa and re-fried beans?
Whichever option they go for, encourage them and keep educating them on the healthy aspects of each of their choices. Maybe, even try some new combinations together – even when they do not work, this is great fun!
A few tips for getting your kids in the kitchen:
– Do not attempt to get your little ones to make complicated dishes at first; this will just put them and you off.
– Schedule your kitchen play-date for a time when you are not rushed. This is not a mess-free process and can require patience! Maybe start them off on the weekend and work from that point.
One thing that will make your life a lot easier is if you buy a decent lunchbox. The bento boxes are all the rage at the moment, but anything with sections will do really. Try and get into a formula like the main meal, veg/fruit and sweet. You are not only making your life much easier, but you are also instilling simple guidelines that will stay with your kids for the rest of their lives!
Also, try to plan your meals in advance if possible. This will make it easier for you and also gives your kids a chance to be part of the menu planning. They can talk about what they want to eat the week ahead and get excited about it.
This is the key to successfully introducing your children to healthy eating – getting them excited about healthy food and creating good associations that will stay with them for life. You are also benefiting their lives immensely here and now. In studies, healthy food has been linked to better school performance, additional energy, motivation, and happier childhood.
So when you are looking into healthy lunch ideas pick options you can make with your little ones and start their life-long healthy eating journey!