Do you have a hard time getting your child to eat the lunch you’ve packed for school? Life as MOM contributor JessieLeigh has some great suggestions on items you can purchase to make brown bag lunches more appealing to your kids.
Making healthy choices at mealtimes is a goal many of us set for ourselves and our children. We want our little ones to get the nutrients they need for strong, growing bodies. Just because we’re packing it up in a lunchbox, this goal doesn’t change– we still want our kids to eat nutritious, varied foods that will nourish them and fuel them up through their days.
The reality, however, is that when you’re sending your child off to school all day, you give up some control at mealtime. You’re not there to coax and encourage, and you’re relying on your kiddo to make good choices and eat the things that you sent.
I could share lots of ideas for what to send based on my own children and experience. At the end of the day, though, I recognize that you know your kids far better than I do and you have a much better idea of what they will actually eat.
So, instead of recipes or snack lists, today I want to share some very simple, mostly inexpensive, items that I’ve purchased over the years that have greatly increased my rate of success in getting my little people to eat a wide, healthy array of foods in their lunch boxes.
1. Extra-small storage containers
Somewhere along the line, I discovered that my children absolutely adore having peas at snacktime. They’ll also eat corn or various beans without complaint, but peas are the real fave. Anyway, standard storage containers are just too large for these things. There would either be a gigantic serving or wasted space. Extra-small lidded containers are perfect and my kids love their ease and portability.
2. Tiny little spoons
I bought a pack of teeny tiny little silver-toned plastic spoons at the dollar store on a whim one day. I anticipated my girls using them for their baby dolls or during tea parties. Little did I know that my daughters would eat just about anything if I let them use a dainty little silver spoon! There’s something about those tiny, shiny spoons that makes everything more appealing to them. And because they’re just inexpensive plasticware, I don’t fret if they get lost, broken, or tossed out by mistake.
3. Sturdy, fun water bottle
Water is king when it comes to hydration. Kids will drink more of it if their bottle is easy to fill, easy to open, and something they enjoy. Look for sturdy materials and a simple design without too many nooks and crannies to harbor germs or breakable hinges or mouthpieces.
4. Partitioned containers
Variety is the spice of life! Partitioned containers make it easy to send small amounts of a variety of different foods. Bonus: for those children who are fussy about foods touching, these containers keep everything in its place.
5. Colorful straws
Another great way to get little ones to drink more water is to let them use a bright, fun straw. Straws are also key in encouraging kids to finish up juices or smoothies that you’ve made for them. I’m a huge fan of wide, disposable straws in favorite colors. “Crazy straws” can be fun but, in my opinion, should only be used for water since they’re notoriously difficult to wash.
6. Frilly toothpicks
Did you ever go out to lunch as a child and the waitress brought you a sandwich cut into triangles with little frilly toothpicks stuck in them? Didn’t it just taste SO much a better that way? I’m sure this isn’t the case for every child, but fancy, frilled toothpicks can immediately improve an item for many. They’re also super fun to use for eating cubes of cheese, apple, or berries.
7. Dressing/sauce cups with lids
Kids love to dip. Everyone knows this. Resealable and washable cups to use for dressings or sauces are a worthwhile investment to encourage your child to eat well.
8. Flexible ice pack
Let’s face it– some foods really taste better when good and cold. Most lunchboxes are insulated and many have space for a basic ice pack to keep the whole thing reasonably chilled and safe. For items that should be really cold and not just mildly cool, a flexible ice pack comes in handy. I especially like this trick for yogurt and smoothies– those things just taste better and fresher if kept extra chilled!
I have great success sending a huge variety of veggies, fruits, proteins, and grains with my children and having them actually EAT them. At the end of the day, that’s the goal. And if tiny spoons, itty bitty containers, and fancy toothpicks help me accomplish it? Well, then they’re more than worth the couple buck investment.
How do you encourage your child to eat his lunch?
– A mother of three, including a 24 week preemie, JessieLeigh is a determined advocate for even the tiniest of babies. She can be found celebrating life’s (sometimes unexpected) miracles and blessings at Parenting Miracles. You can read all of Jessie Leigh’s posts for Life as MOM here.