Monday, September 12, 2016

Fun and Healthy School Lunches

* This is a sponsored guest post. 

Whether your school has a brown bag lunch policy or your child wants something a bit different from the regular cafeteria food, make sure school lunch is a lift rather than a drag. The same old sandwiches wrapped in foil or plastic may look stale even if they are fresh. Chances are, your child wants something new and different from the regular school lunch, and you want to send along something that is delicious, healthy and fresh. Most of all, you want to make sure that the food you sent along with your child is actually eaten.

Think about Packaging

You may not realize it, even if you prepare lunches for your children day after day, but one of the things that helps to determine what you send your children to school with may be as simple as the packaging or container. Purchasing a small, inexpensive plastic lunch container with a variety of compartments can help you think more creatively about what kind of food to send with your child.

Look for a container that can hold a sandwich, has a small plastic container for salads, a cup for dessert and a bottle of something to drink. If you want to send along soup or stew, provide a thermos as a companion piece. Once you have a variety of storage items, you can expand your thinking when it comes to planning your kid's meals.

Go for Variety

One good thing about institutionalized school lunches is that they tend to contain a variety of food items in an organized structure. Go beyond the simple sandwich and piece of fruit routine by offering several courses in your lunchbox. Your child might like a traditional sandwich, or you can try a wrap with tuna salad and lettuce.

If your child loves sushi, but you feel it is too perishable to bring to school, give your child the sandwich variation on the sushi. Take several slices of bread, remove the crusts, and with wet hands, flatten them on a cutting board. Place spread on your sandwich, such as soy cream cheese, and top it with thinly sliced vegetables such as cucumbers. Roll up the bread portion as if it were sushi and make a seam by pressing the ends with wet fingers. Cut the rolled up sandwich as if it were a sushi roll. Serve the sandwich with homemade sweet potato chips and fruit salad in a portable container.

Perishable Products

You may be concerned about sending your child to school with a sandwich made of mayonnaise or cream cheese because you are worried about spoilage bacteria. One way to solve this problem is to use plant-based products. Hampton Creek Just Mayo mayonnaise replacement contains no eggs and is not as vulnerable to spoilage as regular mayonnaise. Just Mayo is available in a variety of flavors, and there is also a line of salad dressings that contain no eggs or dairy ingredients. Consider using soy cheese or soy cream cheese alternatives for school lunches to make them less perishable.

Let Kids Chip In

Your child may not be telling you that they are not thrilled with their lunches, but you can find out easily when you see an uneaten sandwich or lunchbox still full at the end of the day. Your kids may want something in particular for lunch but might be forgetting to tell you. Sit down with your kid and ask him or her what they would like to eat for lunch. Brainstorm options for menus and involve your child in making his or her school lunches. This will give your child a feeling of responsibility and will help motivate them to create the lunches they want to eat.

If you have to make a lunch every day, it might be easy to get into a rut. If your kid is not eating his or her lunches, that is a sure sign that is time for a change. Start with changing the way food is packaged and you may find new opportunities for making interesting meals on the go. Experiment with new recipes and original ways of making sandwiches and wraps. Involve your child in the process of making his or her school lunches. They may eat their lunches with more enthusiasm and give suggestions of what to make in the future.

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