Earlier this week, Bob Greene shared a number of creative, healthy lunch ideas for children. I wanted to chime in with a few of my own that I pack for my two girls Hope (age 10) and Ella (age 8). The key to making a lunch they’ll love (and you’ll feel good about) is to find fun and creative ways to package healthy foods (fresh produce in a variety of colors, whole-grain breads, beans, nuts, and meats.) Here’s how I get creative:
Make the cut: It takes only a second to cookie-cutter a sandwich. Kids like their food to be bite-sized, so cube or miniaturize everything from rotisserie chicken to cheese to melon. My girls are partial to hearts, princess crowns (although at 10, my oldest will deny this!) and gingerbread boy shapes! But we try to get creative around the holidays. My husband Greg’s favorite is the Halloween shapes!
Skewer: My girls will eat almost anything on a stick. You can skewer cubes of chicken, melon, cherry tomatoes, cheddar cheese and have a sandwich-on-a-stick! (use a blunt edge stick, of course!)
Go for a dip: Kids also love to dip their foods—it’s so much fun to use your fingers and dip! So provide basic sandwiches and a healthy dip. Turkey and cheddar dipped in honey mustard is Ella’s fave; or try Mozzarella and tomato dipped in balsamic vinegar. Raw veggies and fruit with a dip of hummus, guacamole or organic ranch is a crowd pleaser. Even organic chicken fingers in a dip is yummy!
Show some love to your leftovers: Packing a lunch-sized portion of dinner (for example, brown rice, grilled chicken and veggies) and freezing it all together in a container will make for a great future lunch. Just put the container in the fridge the night before, heat it up in the morning in the microwave and pack in a heat insulated lunch pack. It’s easier for mom and dad, and kids like having a full “dinner” type meal for lunch every once in a while.
For more information on healthy and creative school lunches, visit these sites: