It’s back to school time and that means new clothes, overstuffed backpacks, and adorable first day of school photos. But what about school lunches? What starts out fun and exciting quickly turns into a chore. Keeping lunches fun and exciting while still having the nutritional value kids need to power through a long day at school. And just when you thought you found the perfect balance, creating colorful bento boxes loaded with fresh produce, your kiddo returns home with most of it uneaten. So what’s a parent to do? We’ve got some ideas!
Get them involved
Kids have some pretty strong opinions, whether it’s about the mismatched outfits they pick out or the foods they like to eat. So get them involved in the lunch packing process early! Let your little one help prepare the shopping list, bring them to the store to pick out their own special apple or fun shaped crackers, and encourage them to help pack their lunchbox. No matter their age, there’s an activity your kiddo can do to make them feel like they have more control over what’s in their lunchbox.
Make it fun
Making food fun doesn’t alway mean spending hours cutting sandwiches and fruit into cute shapes. (Although that doesn't hurt!) Fun can mean using containers featuring a favorite character, using fun ingredients they may not eat often, or including handwritten notes with silly jokes. No matter what you decide, making food fun is a great way to get your munchkin to eat more of what you pack.
Prep it in advance
Yeah, yeah… meal prep. We get it. It’s fast, it’s easy, it’s usually more nutritious. Ok, so we don’t see much wrong here. Taking an hour or two to prep some dishes on the weekend can make school days way easier! Making a big bowl of pasta salad, hard boiling some eggs, and whipping up a batch of hummus can save countless hours during the week. So do it. We promise, you won’t regret it.
Pack it early
Mornings are hectic enough. There’s no need to add the extra stress of packing lunches while also trying to get your crew washed, dressed, and fed. Try to get into the habit of packing lunches the night before. It gives you the extra time you need to get your kids involved in the process. We’ve seen some great internet hacks where parents pack baskets with sandwiches, fruit, dips, and drinks, then the kids pick one from each basket. What a great way to customize and pack a lunch in minutes!
Make it taste good!
This seems like a no-brainer, but even a favorite food can get boring when you eat it every day. Mix it up and try variations on some classics. Instead of peanut butter and jelly every day, how about peanut butter andChocolate Tahini? Cold sandwich every day? Warm it up! There are so many simple ways to mix things up, even just with a change of sides.
Think outside the (lunch)box! Lunches don’t have to be a sandwich, piece of fruit, and some milk in order for them to be healthy and filling. Your kids can get all the nutrition and joy out of their midday meal even if it takes a different form. We love themed days like
- Dipping Day: include a couple dips, a mix of fruit and veg, and some fun whole grain crackers or pretzels.
- Pick Plates: grab an ice cube tray with a lid and fill each compartment with a different food. Try cubed cheese, dips, fruit, veggies, granola, chips… anything goes!
- Taco salad: tortilla chips, salsa, beans, cheese, veggies… If it tastes good on a taco, toss it in a container and let them build their own tacos!
- Build your own: No assembly required, just include the ingredients and let them build it on their own. This works well for pizzas, sandwiches, salads, and nachos.
Here are some of the Soom Crew’s kid’s favorite ways to shake up lunch:
- Make it chocolate! Yes, kids love chocolate just as much as adults. So toss some chocolate in there sometimes.
- Soom Squeeze Packs Variety Pack
- Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Gluten Free Tahini Brownies
- 2 Ingredient Tahini Chocolate Mousse
- Tahini & Date Syrup sandwich (like a PB&J but better!)
- Elevated Sandwiches (especially great for big kids with big appetites!)
- Cold Salads
- Fun Dips (use veggies, fruit, crackers, pretzels, or bread sticks)
- Soup (get a Thermos and toss in a spoon for a fantastic winter lunch!)