We’ve all said it: “But my kid is a picky eater!” And you’re right! Most kids aren’t excited about a cold piece of grilled chicken breast, hummus and veggies, and a piece of fruit for lunch. If you do have a child who enjoys that, wait until they sit at the lunch table and look over at their buddies’ lunch of a juice box, lunchable, and swiss roll!
I’ve found one of the best ways to get my kids excited about eating a healthy lunch is to get them involved. Allow them to take ownership of their lunches.
- Search for healthy school lunches and have your child write down or pick out their top 5 choices. If your child can’t read or write make sure to search images so they can simply point to what they think looks good.
- Take them to the store with THEIR list, and have them pick out the food they need to make their meals. Again, taking pictures is an easy way to keep them on track.
- Create “make & take” baskets so they can pack their own lunch! In one basket put your fruit (containers or baggies of grapes, berries, etc or pieces of fruit) and in the other basket put your bag/containers of veggies cut up so the kids can grab one bag/container each day for their lunch. If they pick it out they are much more likely to eat it!
- Let them pack it and pick out what they want for the day. Besides, if they don’t choose the container of strawberries you can eat the leftovers without feeling guilty!
Here are some of my favorite quick and easy lunches for my kids. They are similar, but we keep changing up the “fixings” as my sister-in-law would say, and it keeps lunch fun and interesting:
- Corn & Zucchini Fritters: Prepare a batch of whole wheat pancake batter according to box directions, using about 1/2 the liquid. Stir in a cup of fresh or thawed frozen corn, one small grated zucchini and a handful of Parmesan, and a sliced scallion. The zucchini will add moisture; add more liquid if the batter is too stiff. Cook on a griddle until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side. (recipe from bonappetit.com) Add a container of Greek yogurt, natural peanut butter, or pure maple syrup for dipping to their lunch.
- Elvis Burrito: Lay a whole wheat tortilla on a piece of saran wrap. Spread natural peanut butter or almond butter on the tortilla, add thin slices of banana and pieces of bacon. Then roll up the tortilla and wrap it tightly in saran wrap. (For smaller kids it’s easier to wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and let them tear the foil to get to the tortilla)
- DIY Pita Pockets: Simply let your kids pick out what they want to stuff their personal pita pockets Subway style. Some of my favorites are meatballs, turkey, chicken, or ham & cheese with spinach, cucumber, avocado, tomatoes, onions, and a sauce of their choosing!
- Breakfast Burrito: Double your morning efforts by simply making a few extra scrambled eggs mixing them with steamed spinach. Line a whole wheat pita with laughing cow cheese (this will help keep the tortilla from getting soggy). When your eggs are cooled completely add the egg/spinach mixture to the tortilla and roll it up. Then wrap it tightly with saran wrap. Add a container of salsa to dip it in.
- Pinwheels: This is by far one of my kids favorites and we make it the night before which saves us some stress in the mornings! Simply take a whole wheat tortilla and top with laughing cow cheese, then add finely chopped veggies of your choose and finely shredded chicken, fish, or turkey (make sure that your meat is drained and pat it dry with a paper towel to avoid sogginess). Tightly roll up the tortilla and wrap in saran wrap. Refrigerate it overnight, and in the morning cut it into small circles. My son likes to dip his in salsa while my daughter likes her plain!