Eat Healthy, Grow Strong: REAL Kid-Friendly Lunches
If you’re anything like me, and your kids are anything like mine, I’m sure you’ll understand how often I roll my eyes at so-called “kid-friendly recipes.” Edamame Succotash Salad? Tobuleh and Hummus Wraps? Please! Have these people ever even met a preschooler, let alone tried to get three healthy meals a day into one?
My kids are both in elementary school now and I pack a lunch every day. Just because they’re a little older doesn’t mean they’re tastes have matured much beyond their preschool years. They generally ask for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day. Sometimes, they mix it up with bologna or a homemade “lunchable” where I put crackers, bologna and cheese into baggies and let them assemble themselves. I work full time, commute a long way and my family is overrun with extra-curricular activities and family/friend commitments. We don’t have a lot of time and my kids are pretty picky, so I don’t try to be very fancy or creative with most our meals. I do try to vary them as much as possible and make sure they are balanced (yes, I do believe that My Plate is a great guideline).
But, it seems, no matter what I do – we are constantly battling over what’s inside the lunch box. I want to give them lots of yummy, healthy extras – like yogurt, pretzels and granola bars. The deal is, though, they have to eat their sandwiches and fruit/veggies FIRST, before the other stuff. Most days, not only do they NOT follow that rule – but they also completely DON’T eat the sandwiches and fruits/veggies. When that happens, I put them on lunch box probation and, for several days, they get nothing but a sandwich, fruit or vegetable and, maybe, if I’m feeling generous, a granola bar. A few days later, figuring the lesson’s been learned, we go back to regular lunches. And our regular battles.
This week, I discovered that my older son, who is allowed to eat in the school cafeteria once a week for lunch, has not only been sneaking in a second lunch (after not eating the one I packed), but a second breakfast only minutes after finishing his first one at home. What? When I asked why he’s buying a second breakfast, he could only shrug. Am I not making what you like? Do I need to make you more? No, he said. He couldn’t explain.
It does, however, explain why sandwich after sandwich returns home in his lunchbox, uneaten. Who would be hungry for lunch after two breakfasts?
Besides the costs of the extra school lunches and breakfasts, I’ve also grown angry over the amount of food that’s gone to waste – food that costs money. He can kiss his allowance good-bye for a while.
This whole thing, though, has inspired me to find lunch box meals that go beyond the PB&J, but stop somewhere before goat cheese and red pepper sandwiches, to find TRULY REAL kid-friendly lunches to go! A big hurdle to this is that my kids complain they don’t want to eat food “cold.” Hoping I can convince them to accept room temperature for some food, I think I’ve gathered some ideas from the Internet that we’re going to try in the coming weeks:
- Wraps with cheese and turkey or bologna
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Bagels and cream cheese or peanut butter
- Bean and cheese burritos
- Taquitos, cut up with a small container of sour cream
- Left over pasta or macaroni and cheese
- Rolls with cheese and bologna or turkey on the side
- Chicken and rice (they love teriyaki and soy sauce)
- Rice cakes with cream cheese or peanut butter
- Mini muffins
- Dry cereal
- Left over pizza
Be sure to make the meal balanced with fruits and veggies, lean protein, whole grains and dairy!
Anyone else have any ideas for TRULY REAL kid-friendly lunches to share? Leave them in the comments below!
For some great tips and reminders about lunch time realities, check out:
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