For parents who have to rush to work early in the morning, packing the ideal lunch for the kids can be quite a challenge. Even if you have all the time to prepare a good meal, it is still difficult to create a balance between variety, interesting and healthy. This is especially so if the kids are picky or are allergic to certain foods.
Many parents tend to give up and give their kids money to buy themselves lunch. Others throw together junk food which is simple and quick to prepare.
This is a very dangerous trend, one which could negatively shape your kid’s dietary habits and health in the future. You should therefore be careful to provide the young ones with something they will love and enjoy yet at the same time healthy. If this sounds too difficult, check out the simple tips outlined below.
Preparation is the key
Take time to sit down and plan a menu for the whole week. If possible, collect healthy kid’s recipes from the internet and recipe books and compile them. with the recipes close it hand, it will be easy to whip up a healthy meal.
Before the week starts, have a menu ready detailing what the kids will eat everyday for lunch.
Helpful link 1: http://kidshealth.org/kid/recipes/
Helpful link 2: http://www.parenting.com/tags/kids-lunch-ideas
Consult the experts
Child nutrition is not the walk in the park you assume it is; there are many aspects of that many people ignore. It is therefore important to do some research on what nutrients are most important for kids and the ideal sources for the nutrients.
Helpful link 3: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/child-nutrition-13/default.htm
Involve your kids
When you involve your children in the preparation of the meals, they are more likely to enjoy eating them. You can tell them to help you in simple tasks. This way you will be able to know their preferences and dislikes when it comes to food.
Introduce a variety
Do not feed them the same old meal everyday; they will soon get bored. Think outside the box and come up with interesting but kid-friendly healthy recipes.
And now, down to the specifics.
- Vegetables and fruits should constitute half the lunch. For fruits, cut them up into small sizes so as to make them easier to eat.
- Cut down on the meats. For proteins, go for chicken or fish. Avoid foods such as hotdogs or sausages. You can even opt for healthier sources of proteins such as legumes and nuts.
- Instead of artificial juices, add a bottle of water to the lunch pack. If you have to add another beverage, let it be low-fat milk, yogurt or natural fruit juice. Whatever the case, make sure that the water is adequate and clean. Do not leave the kids in a situation where they have to drink school water which may not be clean.
- If you are short of time in the morning, look for meals that are easy to cook such as pasta. You can occasionally prepare a sandwich or use leftovers to quickly prepare something nice.
- If – and this is something you should strive to avoid – you have to give the kids money for lunch, tell them what exactly what they should buy for lunch. This is however an option that you should rarely resort to.
Finally, be an example
The best way to teach your kids about the benefits of carrying a healthy packed lunch is doing it yourself. As you prepare their lunches, also prepare one for yourself and let the kids see you packing it.
Once your kids adopt the habit of eating healthy, you can be sure that they will carry on with it to adulthood.