It's that time of year again... packed lunches for school! We usually keep up good habits for the first week and then run out of ideas! Thankfully Giorgina from @teenytinymeals is sharing some top tips for successful packed lunches for kids.
Summer has been great – so much fun in the sun, late nights, and days spent playing in the water. However, like all good things, they eventually have to come to an end. We’re officially starting to get ready for Ava’s first year of school. Honestly, I don’t even know how we got to this point because it feels like just yesterday she was in diapers. We would be cuddling in bed after lunch, then end up taking a nap together. Now my big girl is moving on and trading lunchtime with mama for lunchtime with new friends!
If your kid is anything like mine, then they are ALWAYS hungry. I plan on sending Ava to school everyday with bento boxes filled with healthy, yet filling, options as well as a small morning snack. Bento boxes are a total hit with parents these days because of their ability to hold different options for little ones to fuel up on.
I’ve been working on packing Ava bento boxes for lunch on the go or at home this summer to get her used to being presented with more, and new, lunch options. What kid doesn’t love opening up their lunchbox to see a variety of yummy foods to choose from? I know I totally spoiled my daughter in this sense; now if I serve her just ONE thing for a meal, she says to me “why just one thing today, mom? Can I have two or three more things from the fridge?”. I can never catch a break with this one!
A lot of parents say they struggle with sending their little ones with a packed lunch everyday because they run out of options. Additionally, they say that they don’t want to send food that they know won’t get eaten. But, I’ve got some tips and tricks to help those of you who need a little lunch-inspiration!
Variety is the spice of life...
First off, I personally like to continue to challenge myself to fill her bento box with one main course, one to two fruits and veggies, as well as one treat. I also like to include at least one fruit or veggie that she isn’t used to eating regularly to continue our journey of exposure.
For example, in the bento box shown above:
- Main course: Italian dressing grilled chicken w/ cheese & pita bread
- Veggies: Raw spinach + cucumber salad w/ French dressing (two veggies she isn’t used to eating on a regular basis)
- Fruit: Banana
- Treat: Apple juice box was served with this lunch
Some ideas of a morning snack I would send with this lunch are:
- Double chocolate chip oatmeal muffins (recipe under #teenytinymealsmuffins)
- Chocolate sunflower seeds
Preparation pays off...
With all that being said, its time for another tip – cook more than you need and prep the fruit and veggies you have for the week ahead. Every Sunday, my fiancé grills up a whole bunch of chicken in two different marinades while I wash and cut our fruit and veggies for the week as well. This allows one of us to quickly put together rounded out meals for lunch and dinner. I was able to pull this lunch together in five minutes flat!
Slow & steady wins the race...
Now, if you have an apprehensive eater on your hands, you may be looking at this lunch like “there is no way my kid will eat that salad”, or maybe even that grilled chicken. The important thing is to continue to expose our little ones to things we one day hope they will eat. If you keep making them their favorites for lunch, of course they are going to be taken aback when you serve something new and will protest by not eating or even trying it. Remember to start small and move slowly.
The raw spinach and cucumber have been two veggies that we’ve been working on eating since winter and these past two months she has actually began to eat them! However, this time I tried something new and served both as a salad with her favorite dressing. YOU know your child best so if you know they will absolutely protest anything new then serve it mixed in with a favorite like I did with Ava’s favorite French dressing! I also know that if she is hungry enough, she is more open to at least trying new foods and then deciding if she likes them or not.
Shown above is our after shot of a successful lunch! It may not be completely empty but I was so relieved to see that she actually tried and ate half of her salad. She even let me know how good and crunchy it was. Not too much waste from this lunch and she ate the leftover pita as a snack a little while later.
Now if you haven’t jumped on the bento box bandwagon yet, run to amazon and search for our top three favorites:
To see these three bento boxes in use with more lunch ideas or more easy kid and family friendly meal ideas – make sure to follow us over on @teenytinymeals on Instagram. I promise to spam with cute newborn baby boy pictures hopefully soon as well ;)
Thanks so much to Giorgina for these great tips. It's easy to give up on your kids' bad lunch habits but this has inspired us to perservere with exposure and patience!
Creative QT designs quality + innovative toys that declutter homes and inspire creative play. Founded by parents of five, Adam and Dana Sue Hinkle, Creative QT’s vision is to empower parents and encourage a culture of families that Make Time Together. All products are designed to enrich families’ lives through active, creative play and play based learning. Creative QT products are laboratory tested for compliance with CPSC requirements and are free of lead, cadmium and phthalates so you can play with confidence. So, go ahead … today is the day: be your kid’s hero.
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