Think Inside The Lunch Box


180! That’s the average number of days kids will need their school lunch packed each year. That’s a lot of exciting school lunches to think about, especially if you’re concerned your kiddo will trade or ditch the meal entirely if he or she is less than thrilled with the selection. 
So how do you achieve “kid cool” status in an everyday lunchbox? The research (and lots of life experience!) tells us that kids are more likely to eat what you pack for them when they are engaged with their food. The key is to get them involved in picking out food items and packing their own school lunches whenever possible. Below are a few kid-approved strategies that will help keep you ahead of the daily challenge and ensure your child doesn’t fall behind in nutrition.


Let your child customize his lunchbox with a DIY approach that keeps the options fresh every day.
TRAIL MIX: A hearty way to get in a ton of whole grains, nuts and seeds (toasted pumpkin seeds, anyone?). It also helps you keep better control over portion size of the sweeter ingredients. To increase the fun level of your trail mix, consider adding the following items:

A SALAD BAR: Let your kid pick a new ingredient every day from a different color of the rainbow, encouraging him to try new foods one at a time. And since kids love to play a role in preparing meals, look for a fun salad shaker he can bring to school. Once he pours in the dressing, he can shake it up and eat. Some colorful and even crunchy options include:

If your little one is not big on green leaves, try basing the salad on a fruit, like watermelon cubes, something starchy, like boiled potatoes, or whole grains, like quinoa, spelt, or kamut.


Who doesn’t love to eat with their hands? The good news is that sandwiches aren’t the only way to serve up a fork-free meal. Helpful hint: Pack a natural hand sanitizer wipe in the school lunchbox for germ-free fun. 
SUSHI” STYLE BITES AND PINWHEELS: This is a simple alternative to the classic sandwich. Wrapping, rolling, and slicing make bite-sized servings perfect for little hands. Take a whole grain wrap, spread it with nut butter, lay down a peeled banana, roll it up, and slice it. For a little extra nutrition you can even sprinkle on some raisins or crushed nuts. You can also try these alternate filling ideas:

fruit and skewers]

SKEWERS: This is a simple and colorful way for little hands to eat their colors. With fruit skewers, keep it interesting by including less common fruits like kiwi. If you’re not sure your child will like something new, just add one piece of a new food and keep the rest of the skewer filled with familiar favorites. For a little extra protein, alternate each fruit piece with a cube of cheese. For a little more hand-held fun, pack a small container of a creamy Greek yogurt with honey—simply perfect for dunking fruit!
For veggie skewers, roast some seasonal veggies for caramelized flavor and mix and match for a colorful assortment. For a protein packed addition, include a small container of hummus or ranch dressing.

Spent hours cooking up a scrumptious dinner the night before? Showcase the leftovers by serving them up inside pita pockets for lunch. It’s a hassle-free way to eat without a fork and makes for a great double-duty meal. The day after Thanksgiving is about as good as it gets!

Kids love a little crunch in their meals, particularly on a salad or sandwich. There are lots of alternatives to sodium-laden potato chip that also give a great punch of crunch.

Every kid loves to dip ‘em, dunk ‘em and eat ‘em. When pulling together the school lunchbox menu, think about leaving off the sauce or the spread to create more hands-on eating at mealtime.  
Our favorite foods to dunk are:

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