Guest Blogger, Sarah Alder of Kitchen Titbits gives us her expert advice for creating a kid’s lunchbox your child will love
If you’ve got children at school who don’t eat school dinners, I’m willing to bet that the meal which causes you most stress each day is their packed lunch!
Here are my top tips for stress-free lunchboxes your children are going to want to tuck into at lunchtime.
Consider the lunchbox
The box can make the difference between an eaten and a rejected lunch. Bento style lunch boxes are brilliant because children often like to have their food separated. You can even make your own by putting little lidded pots and silicone muffin cases in a Tupperware box.
Consider what you can prepare the night before or batch prepare for your kid’s lunchbox. Make foods like popcorn in a big batch and store it in an airtight container (for a week). Make muffins, cakes, flapjacks and cookies in bulk and freeze in portions or slices.
Adding lunches into your weekly meal plan will help you think about ways to make this task easier. You’ll also be able to spot where you can use leftovers for the packed lunch or cook extra of something at dinnertime to include.
Get your children involved
Shave off a bit of prep time by allowing your children to construct their own meals at school. Provide the makings of whatever you have planned for lunch and let them put it together (or not!).
Ask your children for ideas. What would they like to put in their lunchbox? Get them involved in preparing some elements of their packed lunch.
With older children, why not discuss after school what they’re going to include and then clear out of the kitchen for 30 minutes to allow them to get on with it without feeling stressed about their processes and mess!
Added interest to your kid’s lunchbox
We eat with our eyes so making the lunchbox interesting will help grab their attention at lunchtime. You don’t need to make sandwiches into stars, teddies and other shapes to add interest – there are ways to do this without it taking extra time to prepare.
A fruit kebab is more likely to get eaten than the same fruit in a pot or when left whole, and vegetables don’t always need to be chopped into sticks – think about using a peeler to make ribbons or using a crinkle cutter.
Are you putting too much in?
We tend to over cater for our kid’s lunchboxes and picnics, especially when we have a fussy eater (you want to make sure they eat something!). Keep in mind how much your child can actually eat. Certainly, this will reduce how much is brought back home and wasted.
Build a balanced meal
A balanced lunchbox = carbohydrate + protein + dairy + vegetables/salad + fruit
Limit crisps and sweet foods to just one item and schools prefer children to have water in a kid’s lunchbox. Is your child used to squash or fruit juice? Try flavouring their water with citrus peel instead.
Avoid nuts as many schools and childcare settings don’t allow them. Many schools have a lunchbox policy too that is useful to read.
There’s more to packed lunches than sandwiches!
On the side, include plenty of colourful veggies, varying between raw and cooked where possible.
In a pot, include dips, sauces and dressings to liven up the lunchbox. They might even make the difference between the food being eaten or ditched.
Fruit kebabs or a fruit salad made from a variety of frozen fruits, chopped up fruit, dried fruit or a fruit compote with natural yoghurt are perfect for afters.
A little bit extra – popcorn left plain or flavoured with cinnamon, smoked paprika or marmite is a good alternative to crisps, as are veg or fruit crisps or baked pitta chips. Sugar-free cakes, muffins, flapjacks and cookies, generally sweetened with dried fruits, carrot or apple are great lunch box alternatives.
Kid’s lunchboxes don’t have to be packed with commercial quick-fixes. Follow my tips and you’ll have great, homemade lunches your children will love.
Bio and links
Sarah Alder of Kitchen Titbits is a meal planning and family mealtimes expert, transforming mealtimes from stressful to stress-free.
Sarah specialises in working with parents who are tearing their hair out at mealtimes. She helps them to support their fussy eaters to eat a wider variety of foods, put the fun back into food and enjoy mealtimes again.
She also teaches about meal planning as a way of saving time and energy in the kitchen, cutting food bills and reducing food waste, taking the stress away from mealtimes and getting away from the age-old question of what’s for dinner!
To find out more about Sarah, her courses, workshops and online courses, visit her website.
You can also follow her on social media:
And she shares her tips and advice in her two free Facebook groups: