(Family Features) With school back in session, many families are beginning to focus on smarter eating habits. Packing your little learner’s lunch is an easy way to help ensure his or her diet contains enough protein and calcium.
By letting your kids play a role in planning and packing their lunches, while tossing in a variety of appealing, fun options, you can make sure your students are set up for success.
“For lunches, I like to include mini-foods, like blueberries, strawberries and Mini Babybel cheese, because there is no prep time needed and they are fun to eat with fingers,” said Amy Bellgardt, mother of two and founder of the lifestyle blog Mom Spark. “When lunchtime is easy and enjoyable, my kids are more likely to eat what we’ve prepared together.”
Bellgardt recommends these tips for creating tasty and fun back-to-school lunches.
Pick a theme
Coming up with daily or even weekly themes based on types of foods can be a great way to tap into your child’s creative side. For example, try Taco Tuesday with walking tacos, or send along several foods that are dip-able, like chicken strips and honey mustard, apple slices and honey, or carrots and ranch dressing. Another fun theme could be Breakfast for Lunch with eggs, mini-pancakes and yogurt.
“I love to make lunchtime more entertaining for my kids by serving them in themed bento boxes,” Bellgardt said.
Mix it up
For winning flavor combinations, pack small amounts of many kid-friendly items from different food groups like crackers, carrot sticks and grapes in colorful bento box-style containers. An option such as Mini Babybel cheese, a 100 percent real cheese with a rich and creamy taste, can be paired with colorful fruits and vegetables – as well as lunchtime staples like sandwiches – to create a balanced and tasty meal. A parent-pleasing choice, each serving of the snack cheese delivers at least 4 grams of protein and 15 percent of daily calcium needs in 70 calories or less, all in colorful red-wax-wrapped packaging with a signature pull tab.
Let kids help
Involving children in planning and packing their own lunches can be empowering. Place a note on the fridge to remind your kids what should go in their lunchboxes and lend a hand with the more difficult parts, such as slicing fruit and veggies or sandwich prep. Creating a routine with your little ones every night before bed can save you time in the morning, foster smart eating habits and create a sense of responsibility.