By Lisa Holcomb
Many of us have children at home throughout the day, and regardless of their ages, they depend on us in some form or fashion for their lunches. Sure, even young children can often make themselves a simple sandwich. But, the fact is, kids—and parents—can get tired of the same old sandwich for lunch every day. So, what’s a parent to do? Here are some great ideas for getting your kids healthy, easy lunches that will keep them excited about “What’s for lunch today?”
- Keep it fun. Kids love to dunk their food. Carrot sticks with some ranch dressing is always a good thing. They also love to scoop their food. A tuna or chicken salad scooped up with Fritos works great. Cut their food into fun shapes with cookie cutters.
- Use as little processed food as possible. Lunch isn’t a time for a high carb meal. Try to balance it out with high protein and other nutrients kids need. Avoid all the store bought snacks, such as cake snacks (Ding Dongs and Twinkies), fruit roll ups, cookies, etc. There is way too much sugar in these. Instead opt for fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, or your own homemade, low-sugar treats.
- Leftovers. Leftovers is an easy, healthy, and yummy lunch that can be a far cry from the same old sandwich. Depending on the age of the children, many can easily warm leftovers up by themselves (or with a little adult supervision) and have a nice hot lunch.
- Pasta. Is your child a pasta lover? Try a fun pasta salad for lunch. Even simple spaghetti and meatless sauce works fine.
- Soups and Stews. Once the temperature starts dropping, your kiddos will really appreciate some warm soup or stew at lunch time. Make it for dinner but make sure you have enough to serve for lunch the next day. You can also freeze most soups and stews so you have it on hand for lunch when you need it.
- Really think out of the box. Hardboiled eggs (already peeled), slices of apples and cheese, popcorn (not the microwaved version), yogurt parfaits, a baked potato with toppings, and leftover pizza all make great additions to a healthy lunch.
Let your kids do as much of the preparation for lunch as you feel they are capable of doing. My youngest is 11-years-old, so I rarely have to fix lunch now. Some days lunch is as simple as the old standby PB & J sandwich, and that’s just fine. However, if you open your children’s minds to the many possibilities of fun and yummy lunch-time choices, you’ll most likely avoid those lunch-time blues.
Lisa Holcomb and her husband, Will, have six children (her oldest two children are married and have babies of their own) and live near Austin, Texas, with their four boys. Lisa is co-founder of Build A Menu and is known as the “Queen of Meal Time Makeovers.” She is an author, speaker, and an advocate for adoption, family nutrition, savvy grocery shopping, and family dinners. Feel free to email her at [email protected].