I sent my kids back to school a couple of weeks ago. It was certainly not without some serious questioning, and a touch of fear. Who wants to sent their children into classrooms full of children when you don’t know what precautions their families have taken during a pandemic? But, the mental health implications of being away from the classroom, and away from friends, for months on end, were beginning to show.
While my eldest, being in high school, only goes for half the day, and only a few days a week, my youngest is in class full time – and they don’t allow them to come home for lunch. Once they’re at school for the day, they have to stay.
Not only that, lunchtimes aren’t in a common area, they have to be easy to open and easy to eat (since teachers aren’t permitted to help with anything), and they still have to be delicious. Who wants a hungry kid coming home because they refused to eat their lunch?
So, for the first time since March, I’m packing lunches again.
Here are a few tips to make it easier, and a few easy, kid friendly ideas to make sure that lunch bag comes home empty, and your kiddo has a full tummy.
Kids tend to fall into two camps: those that will eat the same thing over and over, and those that embrace variety. Determine which one you have, and plan ahead. Carrot sticks for three weeks straight? Buy extra carrots! Not wanting the same veggie twice, have them pick some favourites to add to the grocery list
- Kids tend to fall into two camps: those that will eat the same thing over and over, and those that embrace variety. Determine which one you have, and plan ahead. Carrot sticks for three weeks straight? Buy extra carrots! Not wanting the same veggie twice, have them pick some favourites to add to the grocery list
- Plan with your child. Let them help you choose recipes, make grocery lists, or add items to the online shopping cart. Right now, I wouldn’t recommend bringing them to the store with you, but typically, I would
- Make easy-to-eat, and easy-to-open, foods. Anything that a kindergarten-aged kid can’t ope by themselves won’t get eaten. So a big thermos of soup, or a hard-to-open container will come right back home. Choose containers that will contain the spills or leaks, but are still child-friendly
A few things that have been big hits in my house lately include:
- Pigs in a blanket – nitrate-free hot dogs with a biscuit dough, baked in the oven
- Mac and cheese bites – make a batch of Mac and cheese, and bake it in silicone cupcake cups. I tend to go for this recipe because it sneaks in veggies, too
- Homemade lunchables- bite sized bits of meat, cheese, crackers, dips, some veggies and a small, sweet treat for fun
- Homemade mini pizzas – pizza is great served cold, and mini pepperoni pizzas on English muffins are just the right size for a lunch
When I make a lunch, I always try to include some fruit, a vegetable of some sort (carrot sticks or sliced red pepper are often a hit here), and a nut-free treat (our school is peanut and tree nut free). This also provides a good snack for mid-morning breaks and afternoon recess.
The best part? These lunches also work well if the kids are online learning, you’re working, and you still want to ensure healthy lunches are at the ready.