Thank goodness the era of plating our children’s “brown bag” lunches in Picasso-esque creations is (mostly) passed… sure, there are still some Pinterest-worthy parents – and if you’re one of them, you’re amazing – but for the masses, we’re just sighing with relief. That said, sending healthy lunch for the little ones is still more difficult than forking over a few dollars and letting them have at the lunch line. Here are some easy lunch hacks to make a healthy lunch easily – and in a way your kids will happily eat it.
Ok, so your kids sandwich isn’t cut and perfectly decorated as a butterfly: That doesn’t mean the regular ol’ square sandwich can’t be interesting. Swap the baggie or foil for butcher paper (bonus – it’s a cheaper and more eco-friendly material!) – but before wrapping, break out the crayons and colored pencils and go to town. Take the time to write them a quick note of encouragement, sketch (crudely in many of our cases) their favorite animal, or jot down a quick comic based on something funny that they said recently or something timely within your house. You don’t have to spend hours plotting; just roll with what’s happening at your house in the moment.
Let them play with their food.
Have you ever noticed that your kids are much more likely to eat something they help make than the dinners you’ve spent an hour plus concocting? Take that same concept to lunch. You could artfully design sandwiches and salads, arranging it as cute rabbits or caterpillars… or you could pop the components in little compartments and call it a day. If your kids are younger, they may have trouble with the official bento box lunch boxes, but they can likely handle small bags with individual items and pop them onto a provided paper plate.
When in doubt, do soup!
Soup is truly the most easily overlooked and underrated lunch food – and one that many kids love. For one, you can pop the ingredients in your crockpot the day/night before and it cooks itself (serious culinary magic there). For another, you can easily work in protein, veggies, and even the carb: It’s an all-in-one dish that’s actually healthy (and bonus – you can sneak in vegetables). Obviously make use of an insulated thermos that will hold the heat; if you don’t yet have one, it’s worth the investment. In the morning, just heat up the pre-prepped soup, pop it in a thermos, and put the thermos and a disposable spoon in the bag: lunch is ready to go in less than five minutes.