Kid's Lunch Ideas
Dread packing school lunches? We know for parents of picky eaters that it can be a constant battle. The ever-present wondering of “Will they or won’t they?” when it comes to which foods their child will eat. Even when you think you’ve won, suddenly your child’s favourite food one week becomes “icky” the next. To tip the odds in your favour, we’ve come up with a couple bright ideas to keep your child’s lunchbox full of well-balanced meals that are also fun for your little ones to enjoy.
THE “UNDER THE SEA” LUNCH
When dealing with picky eaters, sometimes the best way to approach lunch is by making it a fun experience by turning lunchtime into an adventure to a far-off place, like under the sea!
This themed lunch idea is all about setting the scene. When your child is transported to a far-off place, suddenly, those aren’t pieces of broccoli, they’re pieces of coral. The best thing about this lunch is that everything is interchangeable, so if your child still won’t eat the broccoli, you can turn it to seaweed and use cucumber instead. Here are some of our favourite “under the sea” options:
Fruit: blueberries for the “sea,” half of a banana becomes a dolphin when you cut the tip of the stalk to mimic its mouth, and sliced kiwi turtle with five green grapes stuck into the kiwi slice with toothpicks becomes the head and fins.
Veggies: Broccoli and cauliflower as “coral,” cucumbers as “seaweed,” and a red capsicum strategically sliced and held together with toothpicks becomes a “crab”
Protein: A hot dog cut in half with the bottom sliced into 8 legs is suddenly an “octopus” or a tuna croissant sandwich becomes a “clam.”
Dairy: Crumbled biscuit over yoghurt looks similar to “sand” over “seafoam,” when served over your blueberry “sea.”
The best part of this lunch is that there are no limitations into what you can turn different foods into or themes to go with. Get as creative as you like.
THE “NO VEGGIES” LUNCH
Why is it that picky eaters only seem to dislike healthy foods, like vegetables? If you’re a parent who struggles to get their child to eat their veggies, you’re probably no stranger to hiding them within their food, and here enters pasta sauce. Whether your child loves a red meat sauce over spaghetti or begs for macaroni and cheese, you can easily hide veggies in the sauce by simply blending them up.
For a red sauce, simply make as you usually would, but instead of diced veggies blend them up before you add in any meat. If you’re looking for a little more inspiration, we recommend sauteing a red onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 red pepper, 1 carrot, and 1 zucchini before blending with a can of diced tomatoes and tomato paste.
For a veggie-filled mac and “cheese,” try opting for a healthier carrot and pumpkin sauce by roasting a carrot and 500g pumpkin before blending with 1 cup milk of your choice and seasoning with salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, or any other preferred spices to taste to taste. With the orange colour, this dish looks exactly like macaroni and cheese, but with a healthy serving of veg.
Simply make the sauce without your child seeing the process, and by the time your child takes them out of their backpack, they’ll never know the difference.
THE “DIY” LUNCH
Kids love feeling like they get to help and make their own decisions, which is exactly why we love this “DIY lunchables” idea made in your child’s very own snack boxes. Rather than simply buying a lunchable from the store, make your own with all of your favourite ingredients. This way you’ll be able to ensure your child is getting all of the nutrients they need by including a wider variety of foods.
If you’re not sure what to include in your homemade lunchable box, we love: whole grain bread, tortilla wraps, veggie sticks, grapes, thinly sliced ham, pepperoni, sliced cheese, peanut butter, crackers, biscuits, hummus, and boiled egg. Really though, the options are endless!
THE “FAVOURITE FOODS” LUNCH
Sometimes, it’s easiest to simply treat your kid to their favourite foods, but making it a little more lunch friendly. For example, making a full-sized pizza the night before isn’t probably realistic. However, homemade pizza bagels are the perfect (and easy!) lunch alternative.
Another idea is breakfast for lunch by exchanging ordinary pancakes for a healthier quinoa or banana option served with a sugar-free syrup or even peanut butter to pack in the protein.
Everything in moderation, we say, and your child will be thrilled when they pull out their lunch box and see their favourite foods on occasion.