Uneaten school lunches are a bummer – for both the diner and the chef. So we’ve put together a number of tips from a range of experts on how mums can find their lunch-box mojo.
1. Balance is key
If you can manage to put a fruit, vegetable, protein, and carbohydrate into your child’s school lunch every day, you’ve totally done your job.
2. Visual appeal is as important as yumminess
If you're making a sandwich, take the extra step to cut it out with cookie cutters. Or use a melon baller to create sphere-shaped pieces of watermelon or cantaloupe.
3. Reinvent “boring” vegetables
Try serving veggies in unexpected forms, like using steamed kale to make kale chips.
4. Don't overpack the lunchbox
It can be overwhelming for little kids. For example, if you’re going to include broccoli, just put in 3 florets. And opt for a compartmentalised lunch box that help parents more accurately measure portion sizes.
5. Make it interactive
Look for opportunities to include dressings, dips, and sauces. Try pairing apple wedges with hommous, peanut butter, or tzatziki.
6. Encourage ownership and independence
The more involved kids are in the lunch-making process, the more excited they will be about their lunch. Try getting them in the kitchen even once a week so they can say, “Hey, I made that!” about something in their lunch box.
7. Give them a heads' up
Tell your kids about their lunch before they leave for school to make them more excited about it. If they went to the farmer’s market with you, you could say something like, “Remember that rockmelon we got? I cut it up for you and put it in your lunch!”
8. Deprivation is never a good thing
It's okay to include some sort of an exciting sweet treat (just avoid processed foods and refined sugar). Fresh fruit is a great idea as are some of the snacks in the health food section of the supermarket.
9. Consider the environment
Pack food and drinks in reusable air-tight containers or snack containers.
10. Don't be scared to pack something warm
If you want to pack soup or left over vegetables or casserole from the night before, fill a thermos with boiling water, place it on the counter, screw on the lid, and let it sit for 5 minutes. Pour out the hot water, fill with warm or hot food, and replace the lid. The food will stay piping hot for hours!