Back to School Lunches: Getting Your Kids Involved
Think the words “back to school” strike fear into the hearts of summer-loving kids? Well, they’re often equally daunting to parents who have to get back into the grind of packing school lunches day in and day out. No doubt, coming up with nutritious lunches can get tedious — especially when what’s offered on the school lunch line might be just as healthy. Asking your kids to help out, and adding nutritious ingredients like wheat germ to your recipes, not only boosts lunchtime nutrients but makes your job easier, too!
Persuade your kids to help pack those lunches using the following tips:
· Ask them what they like to eat for lunch. Most recipes can be made healthier with a few tweaks. Have them search the Internet, cookbooks and magazines for recipes that sound interesting to them. Steer them to healthier lunch box inspiration at sites like Meal Makeover Moms, Parents.com and MyWheatGerm.com.
· Plan a weekly menu with your kids. Put it on paper and let them color and design it with stickers, then post it on the refrigerator. Make sure to save a copy so you can use it again! Recycling menus helps save planning time.
· Stock the cupboards and fridge with healthy lunch box favorites like baby carrots, multigrain crackers and grapes so meals are easy to prepare. Suggest some healthy homemade snacks you can make with your child on the weekend so you’ll have them ready for the week ahead.
· Chop or slice foods ahead of time when possible and then let your child add the prepared foods to their lunch box.
· Provide several options for sandwiches. Keep a variety of breads, meat fillings, cheese and vegetables, such as lettuce and avocado, on hand so they can build their own sandwiches the way they like.
· Help your kids think out of the box: Pasta and many grain salads can be served cold and are great lunch options. Soups in a thermos will stay warm until lunchtime. Yogurt parfaits and DIY trail mixes let kids get creative and add some fun to their lunches.
· Don’t forget dessert. It doesn’t always have to be decadent, but don’t feel guilty letting your child pack a homemade cookie or muffin. Plan ahead: Let your child choose a recipe for a cookie or other treat, and bake it with them over the weekend. Baking with your kids teaches them a skill they can use for the rest of their lives.
· Keep safety in mind. While it’s great to empower your kids to fill their own lunch boxes, caution and close supervision are critical when chopping foods or using the stove or oven. If you have any doubts, do these tasks yourself.
Most important, make it a fun activity! Don’t worry if your child’s lunch box doesn’t turn out perfectly. Your kids will be proud the next day when they open their lunch in front of all of their friends and say, “I made it!”
How do you get your children to help in the kitchen?