Packing your kid’s school lunch seems like a win-win—it’s cost-effective, nutritious and allows you to control exactly what is going into your child’s mouth. But when that same child is faced with the grease-laden temptations of the lunchroom cafeteria, that ho-hum turkey sandwich won’t likely stand a chance. Moms, it’s time to think outside the lunchbox and craft a delicious and healthy lunch that will actually end up in your child’s stomach—not the trashcan.
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“I think the main thing about making a lunch appealing for kids is the eye-appeal,” says Kelly Lester, the creator and mom behind Easy Lunchboxes®, a line of BPA-free bento-style food containers designed for kids and adults alike. “Everyone—kids, adults—are more drawn to food that’s presented in an attractive way.”
In other words, don’t carelessly slap together a dull sandwich and expect your child to get excited about it (chances are you wouldn’t want to eat a soggy PB&J day-in and day-out either). Beat lunchroom boredom with these expert lunch-packing tips courtesy of Kelly Lester:
- Ditch flimsy brown bags. Invest in kid-friendly, leak-proof, compartmentalized food storage containers. They make organization a snap and allow you to present food items in an appetizing, creative way.
- Pack a healthier dessert. “Freeze a squeezable yogurt tube and include that with lunch for a sweet and healthy treat,” Kelly recommends.
- Go for variety. “Make sandwiches using whole grain tortillas, bagels, hot dog rolls, pitas or flat bread,” Kelly says. Or, trying cutting the crusts off bread and making the sandwich into fun shapes using a cookie cutter.
- Kids love to dip. “Pack salsa, hummus, yogurt or salad dressing to dunk their sandwich, veggies or fruit into.”
- Think bite-sized. “Mini versions of regular foods like sandwiches work well for small appetites and are more likely to be eaten.”
- Think drink. Instead of an ice block, place a frozen juice box or water bottle in the lunchbag. It’ll keep the food chilled and will be thawed by lunchtime.
- Keep it sanitary. “Pack antibacterial wet wipes so your kids can clean their hands before and after eating.”
- Keep it fresh. “Remove odors from a lunch box by placing inside a slice of bread that has been soaked in white distilled vinegar. Leave overnight.”
- Pack love. “Include a note to say good luck on a test or ‘I love you.’ Or maybe a silly cartoon you found in the newspaper. Your child will know you’re thinking of them.”