by Erin Parekh, Holistic Health Coach + Culinary Nutrition Expert
With a brand new school year just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about packed lunches and after school snacks.
I know a lot of my mom clients struggle with what to send their child to school with every day. Especially when they’re dealing with a picky eater. Which is why I’ve put together a few tips and recipes to help you pack a healthy, balanced lunchbox your kid will look forward to eating.
1. Let them help.
When kids are part of the process and able to express their opinion, they’re much more likely to eat what’s been packed. (The same goes for the dinner table too.) Take your kids to the grocery story and have them choose a few fruits and vegetables for the week. They may pick something new just because it looks cool and colorful. Then, let your children help you prepare the food they’re eating – it could be as simply as letting them wash and dry some carrots or spread Sunbutter on a sandwich. They’ll be much more likely to eat (and love!) something they’re personally invested in.
2. Keep it balanced.
I preach balanced blood sugar to all of my clients – and it’s just as important for children in order to keep them calm, focused, and learning during the school day. Pack lunches and snacks that contain protein, fiber, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates to keep your kids satiated and energy levels stable.
And yes, I know what you’re thinking – my kids won’t touch vegetables and always want something sweet. This is why it’s great to get your kids involved in the packing process. Give them a few options from each category and let them choose what they want from each. I think it’s also important to let them choose a small treat / extra as well so they don’t feel deprived (think dried mango, mini chocolate chips, or a few organic tortilla chips).
3. Make it fun!
Variety is the spice of life, especially when it comes to kids and picky eaters. Pack a small assortment of different items in a stainless steel bento box (like these or these) so your child has a mix of familiar and new. The more color the better! I’ve also never met a kid that doesn’t like to dip. Nut/seed butters, guacamole, hummus, ranch, and yogurt are all great options for dunking fruit and veggies.
To get started, here are some of my favorite lunchbox combinations that are fun, tasty, and nutritionally balanced. I’ve also linked my go-to healthy brands for easy shopping.
• Cinnamon roasted sweet potato wedges with Sunbutter + raspberries with full-fat
organic yogurt + coconut oil popcorn + sugar snap peas
• Veggie burger with sliced avocado + bell pepper and cucumber slices with ranch + 1/2 banana + mini chocolate chips
• Carrots and sugar snap peas with hummus + medjool date stuffed with Sunbutter + whole grain rice crackers + apple slices with cinnamon
• Sunbutter and chia jam sandwich on sprouted bread + plantain chips + guacamole and veggie dippers + coconut cookie
• Chickpea pasta salad with dressing and raw or roasted veggies + purple potato chips + dried mango slices with sunbutter
• Omelet roll-up with baby spinach in cassava flour tortilla + sliced grapes + carrot sticks with ranch or hummus + mini sunbutter cup
• Organic cheddar with whole grain rice crackers + hard boiled egg + veggie sticks + raspberries stuffed with mini chocolate chips
Next week, for part two of this series, I’ll be back with recipes for easy, make-ahead, freezer friendly snacks to round out the day.