When dealing out chores, I will eagerly sign up for breakfast or dinner. When it comes to choosing which meal I would opt to eat out, it would be lunch. For some reason, after children, lunch seemed to be that “just getting by” meal of the day. I would get so busy with morning time chores, play dates and errands and return to a home devoid of ready food while blood sugar levels were dropping. Somehow I thought it would be easier once my kids began going to school. Pack a lunch and call it good (and all the moms before me chuckle).
Here are some easy options and tips to making lunch time peaceful.
1. Plan Ahead
This seems like a no brainer, but the more we can do ahead of time, the easier it will be come morning. Try cutting up veggies and having them easy to pack. Or, making extra helpings of the dinners from the night before. Let your kids help in deciding to create their menu for the week by choosing protein choices, vegetable and fruit and a healthy fat.
2. Coordinate with Learning
I recently saw a photo on Instagram of a homeschooling child’s lunch. What was it? A plate chock full of veggies. Why? They were learning about rabbits and lunch coordinated with them eating what rabbits ate. I think this is a brilliant idea. Whether you’re homeschooling or not, it’s so easy to see what your child is interested in or learning at the time, in order to create a lunch or two based on it.
3. Eating with the Season
Back to school means we still have some of summer’s bounty lingering. My girls get tastes of blackberries, tomatoes, zucchini and salads. As September continues, the apples, pears, winter squash and brussels sprouts take precedence. I want my girls to enjoy eating by giving them opportunities to bite into an apple straight from the tree, and know that this is what apples should taste like. We visit the apple farm in Fall, the local in city farm & berry fields in the summer and our Farmers Market almost year around.
4. Get Them Involved
I’m always blown away how apt children are to eat veggies when they grow them in their own garden. Or when they go to the Farmer’s Market to see the local, in-season produce and pick it out themselves to eat. I often put out a plate of cut up veggies and my kids will nosh on them. The more we put them in charge with choices we are willing to give, the more likely they are to eat lunch. Make it simple by taking a trip to the market and seeing what meets your budget. Allow them to touch it and if possible, take a taste.
I ask my girls, “See this kale? Now see this lettuce? What I like about kale is how we can put a dressing on it and it doesn’t get soggy. It’s more hardy.” When we’re in the kitchen I tell them why I’m adding some salt, or a little lemon zest. I make them my taste testers. How does this translate to lunches? The more they know where their food is coming from and how it is transformed through cooking, the more likely they are to eat the food and be life long lovers of nourishment.
5. Make it Fun!
I began making Sunbutter Apple Donuts for my oldest for school, which she loved because it was “different.” Food that is aesthetically pleasing is more likely to be eaten by our littles. Putting your added touch that your child gets to open up to come lunchtime is icing on the cake. This can be using cookie cutters to cut bread or kiwi slices to making little fruit kebobs to dip into yogurt.
**And Don’t forget a special note telling them how special they are to you.
I have loved Michelle of Nom Nom Paleo’s Paleo School Lunches series. She has wonderful ideas and beautiful pictures for a paleo-eating family.
And since a treat every now and then is appreciated, here are my Grain-free & Peanut Butter Free Monster Cookies.
What would you share as your best school lunches tips with the rest of us?