School Lunches Your Kids Will Eat
Summer is coming to an end and school is about to start. That of course means shifting gears and getting back into your school year routine. Part of that routine in your home may be having to pack school lunches. Packed lunches are a great option when your child isn’t too fond of what the school has to offer if there is a cafeteria service. Sometimes even if there is a pizza Friday or hot dog Tuesday, not all children like these options. And if you are struggling financially, your food budget won’t like those options either.
Remember, here at Free Stuff 4 Daily Needs we are always looking for ways to EMPOWER you towards a HOPE and a FUTURE. Today, let’s talk about school lunches.
Dietary Restrictions And Food Allergies
You may even want a little more control over what your child is eating. Of course if your child has dietary restrictions or food allergies, packing lunches is a must.
A difficult challenge comes when the “no peanut” rules directly affect your child. Perhaps your child, like myself, is not allergic to peanuts. Your child in fact is allergic to almonds, macademia nuts, and other tree nuts instead. The problem arises when that other “no peanut” food substitutes these tree nuts in place of peanuts. This then puts your child at risk.
Another great health concern is wheat intolerance. This is a continually growing problem. Perhaps it is due to the fact that our wheat, not being a native plant to the Americas, has been genetically altered. This alteration is to encourage it to grow here, but how much damaging affects has it done on our bodies over the generations, causing our children today to have sometimes life threatening issues. The wheat we consume today is not the nutritious food that God first created it to be.
Frankly, packing a lunch allows you to include healthy foods that you know your child can and will eat. After all, who knows your child’s eating habits, likes and dislikes better than you? The bonus is that it will actually cost you less than paying for a lunch service at the school.
Stop The Lunch Swap
Of course packing a lunch every day doesn’t do any good if your child doesn’t eat it or ends up trading most of it away for junk food. The key then is to find things that your child loves and enjoys eating.
When you child has dietary restrictions, the idea that they are swapping lunches can leave you terrified. You don’t know what is in that other lunch. Will it make your child sick due to a food allergy triggered response?
If you discover your child is swapping lunches, find out “what” they are swapping for? Asking your child “why” they are swapping will give you valuable insight too. I’ve heard stories of the sandwiches being swapped because one child never gets homemade bread, while another child never gets a sandwich wrap or pita.
You can look at your child’s answers and determine how you can make their lunch more appetizing and less likely to be swapped.
Perhaps your child is throwing lunch out rather than eating it. Why? I loved peanut butter sandwiches at school. However, I didn’t appreciate the jam. My reason—the jam, after being on the bread for a few hours until lunch, made my sandwich soggy and gross.
But if I had just a plain peanut butter sandwich, I was fine and enjoyed eating it thoroughly. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good PB & J sandwich—but only when it is freshly made, before the jam makes the bread soggy.
So, ask your child, “why” they are throwing lunch out.
Involve Your Child
The best place to start is to get your child involved.
Depending on the age of your kids, putting them in charge of making their own lunches helps:
- Your child to pack something they will eat
- To teach your child responsibility. They will only forget to make their own lunch once or twice and end up hungry to quickly learn that lesson.
- Free up your time. One less thing for you to do.
Start by talking to your kids about what they want in their lunch box. Make a list of options and then head to the store so you have everything you need for the first week of school. Getting the kids as involved as possible will make sure that they end up with lunches they will eat. For older kids that may mean making their own lunches (under your supervision of course).
Younger children can certainly help too. Even your kindergartener can wash grapes and put them into a container, or pick a snack for his lunch box.
Get in the habit of making lunches together the night before. Over time you can give the kids more and more responsibility for their lunches. This alone will help make sure they eat what they’ve packed. After all, it’s the lunch they made. Along the way you’re teaching them independence and important life skills.
Strike A Balance
Of course you want to encourage your kids to pack and eat healthy foods. However, always insisting on healthy food options all the time will not be your best strategy though.
Strike a balance and make compromises.
If your kids pack and eat a healthy wrap or salad for example, let them have some kind of a treat for dessert. Perhaps they enjoy sunflower seeds or a good granola “gorp” to munch on. Teach them to make good choices.
Your goal is to get them to eat fairly healthy and make smart food choices, not restrict all access to junk food. Because if all junk food is off limits, your child will just trade with friends for those forbidden Twinkies anyways.