Tips for Making Healthy School Lunches that Kids Will Actually Eat

healthy school lunches

Back to school can be challenging enough without having to think about making healthy school lunches that your kids will actually eat. Packing kids lunches is not always an easy task. As parents it can be challenging figuring out what to put in there that won’t come back at the end of the day half eaten and you’re wondering what your child had for lunch that day.

There are many ideas on recipes and creative things to put in kid’s lunches that will entice the kids to eat a healthy well balanced lunch but what I have learned is it is not all the fancy recipes and creativity that does the trick, though that certainly may help, it is knowing what your kids like and putting those items into their lunches that is the key. Or one of. In order to make a healthy school lunch that your kids will actually eat I have discovered the following tips that will create success.

Tips for Making Healthy School Lunches

1.Put in foods that you know your kids like – this is not the time to try out this new healthy food recipes. If kids don’t know what it is they will likely not touch it or tentatively take a bite and skip it. The best time to try a new food or recipe is at home, where you can offer a supportive and happy environment. If you discover that they like it, then you can pop it in their lunch.

healthy school lunches2. Get the kids to help – depending on the age of the child they can help or do it all on their own. Research shows that when kids participate in creating their own meals that they are more likely to eat it.

3. Offer them choice – this can be a win win situation. You as the parent can choose two healthy options and ask them which one they would like, ie the tuna sandwich or the ham. The child feels empowered because they got to choose what they wanted and you are happy because they have made a healthy choice that you are happy with.

4. Have variety – put in a variety of healthy items into your child’s lunch but in smaller portions. This way they have lots to choose from and enjoy and food is not wasted. My daughter often has a sandwich in her lunch but usually eats her spinach dip, apple, muffin and a bit of her sandwich. She is happy and is full and I know that she has gotten a variety of nutrients into her growing  body. It’s ok that she did not eat all of her sandwich as she saves it for the next day. The point is if I had only put in the sandwich and apple then she would have likely still been hungry and not had enough energy for her afternoon. There is also value in having variety from day to day or week to week. Change it up! as no one really likes the same thing day after day after day.

healthy sweet treats for kids5. Add in a healthy sweet treat – who doesn’t love a little sweet treat in their lunch? The kids will love it and see it as a bonus. There are lots of recipes out there for healthy sweet treats that you can feel good about putting into your kids lunch. Ones that are delicious and rich in nutrients so even if they eat that first you know that they are still getting good healthy stuff.

6. Make lunches fun and interesting – adding a little creativity to your kids lunches can not only make it more enticing to eat but can make it fun for you as well. There are many quick easy things that you can do like making faces out of their vegetables, cutting cheese out in shapes, make two tone sandwiches, etc.

7. Make lunch the night before – this takes so much pressure off you and makes mornings smoother and easier, with one less thing to do before you head out the door. If you make it the night before (I do everything except the sandwiches as I like them fresh), then you have time to put things in that are healthy and have the kids participate without everyone having to feel rushed and just tossing in whatever so the kids have at least something for lunch. When you’re not rushed you make better clearer decisions and it enables you to do any extra prep if you need to.

how to make tacos with kids8. Lastly, talk to your kids about their lunches. Ask them what they would like in them, offering a variety of choices that you are happy with. Ask them each day what they ate and enjoyed, what they didn’t like. Did they have enough in their lunch? Having a dialogue about their lunch not only gives you an idea of what they need and like (yes kids tastes can change often) but also helps you create healthy lunches that they will eat. One thing that is very important is to make sure that you do not reprimand your kids for not eating something or become upset, this will have the opposite effect of what you want, to get them to eat. Instead, ask them why they did not eat it – it may be as simple as they were full – or if they didn’t like it – ask them what they would like instead – again offering them choices. For example, if they didn’t eat their apple and tell you they’re tired of apples, offer them a couple other fruits that you would be happy with.

The two most important things that will help you create healthy school lunches for your kids are putting in what they like and getting them to participate. It can also be a great opportunity to spend time with your kids in the busy day doing something you have to do anyway. And guess what? If they help that means you have a little more time for yourself in the evening because lunch is already done.

Favorite Healthy Lunch Recipes

That being said it’s always nice to have a pool of recipes to pull from to create variety in your lunches. Here is a list of some of our favorite healthy lunch recipes for you to try (and remember if it’s new to you, try it at home on a weekend first before popping it into your kid’s lunch).

Veggies & Dip

Wraps

Salads

Muffins

Healthy Sweet Treats

Do you have a favorite healthy lunch recipe? Share in the comments below.

All Things Pumpkin

IMG_2217In the month of October there seems to be a lot of pumpkin about. From Thanksgiving feasts that include delicious pies and cheesecakes to Fall festivals and trips to the pumpkin patch, even right up until Halloween when we are carving pumpkins for the kids and all our trick or treaters.

I love pumpkins. I not only love the taste, but I love the bright orange color they are, the unique shapes and sizes and all the different things that you can do with pumpkin, from eating and recipes to decorating and crafts.

I do have to say that I tend to lean towards the pumpkin food items the most, as I really do enjoy those. And lately I have been finding all kinds of pumpkin delights that I have tried or am about to try such as pumpkin pancakes, muffins, latte, fudge, cheesecake, ice cream and of course pie. I even discovered a recipe for a Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake, which though I have to make a few dietary adjustments I can’t wait to get it into my oven and more importantly in my tummy!IMG_2173

The pumpkin pancakes I discovered a few years ago when I bought Halloween pancake molds that came with the recipe (those are so fun!). The pumpkin spice latte is a slow cooker recipe I discovered last year and made for the first time last week for my open house. The fudge I have yet to try but believe me I am all over this and it won’t be long! And I have always loved pumpkin muffins, though I have been dappling in some new recipes. I always enjoy variation and who knows you might be missing out on something even better if you don’t at least try it!

I am not sure what it is I love about pumpkin dishes so much, but I am sure that it also has to do with the allure and smell of all those delicious spices that go in it; like ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Mmmm… just the thought of it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

pumpkin-spice-latte-white-chocolateMy greatest (and most fun) pumpkin discovery this Fall was actually not a food item. Which is ok, I was just super surprised at whoever came up with this as it is so simple, yet so ingenious. It is Pumpkin Play Doh! I thought this was fabulous! My kids loves playdoh and what a fun way to tie in a theme, those spices we love and play and create at the same time.

I found the recipe on another blog While He Was Napping. She makes her playdoh on the stove top which I am sure works well, but I have my own playdoh recipe I decided to use and adjust instead (as it is just a mix everything together, I like to avoid extra pots and pans). All I needed to do was add my pumpkin pie spice and color it orange. Presto! Pumpkin Playdoh.

IMG_2305The twins loved it! Thought it was the most fabulous thing ever, yeah it was playdoh but it was new and it was pumpkin! Even Matthew and his friend smelled it and said it smelled really good. Plus I played it up a little, got out the Halloween cookie cutters for them to use and sat down and played with them for a while. Chloe loved making pumpkin hair for the Fuzzy Cuts Barber Shop we have. Luke just rolled it and created as he usually does. Fun was had by all.

I’m wondering now what other ‘flavours’ of playdoh I can make, perhaps mint or chocolate. It could be done, I’ll have to experiment… In the meantime enjoy the pumpkin…

Pumpkin Playdoh

Mix together in a medium bowl:

2 c. flour

4 tsp. cream of tartar

1 c. salt

2-3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (amount depends on how strong you would like the scent)

Add in:

1 1/2 c. boiling water

2 tbsp. oil

Mix together. Knead well. Add in orange food coloring. Knead again until well mixed. Store in ziploc bags.

*For ordinary playdoh simply omit the pumpkin pie spice and add whatever color of food coloring you want. Batch is fairly large – so can easily be divided to make a few different colors.

 

Banana Muffins, Coconuts and Play Doh

Yesterday was a blissful day at home. Monday, it was snowy, we didn’t have to go anywhere or do anything. It was lovely.

I had just had a fabulous weekend to myself “sans kids”, enjoying some great social time an amazing day at work and some time for me. By Sunday night I was singing!

It nicely carried over to Monday morning, so when they day started with the twins crying for one reason or the other from the time they got up, it really didn’t phase me. I just got them what they needed and carried on. I didn’t “buy in” to the drama and by the time breakfast was over they were both content and playing on their own. And I mean separately on their own, which is unusual as they are usually playing (or fighting) together. Chloe was content in the kitchen organizing markers into plastic cups, pretending to do the dishes in our Fisher Price sink, Luke was in the living room builiding a train track with his Thomas the Wooden Railway. Both totally content and happy to be where they were.

Gluten Free Banana Muffins

I was happy to putz around in the kitchen, cleaning up from breakfast, enjoying my green smoothie and experimenting with new recipes. I had even put dinner into the slow cooker and was basically ‘free’ for the day (ha ha). I had decided to bake, intending to try out a gluten free banana muffin recipe as well as making ginger cookies.

We are not completely gluten free at our house but I have been experimenting a little. I have found that though we are now sugar and dairy free that after eating a homemade muffin I become immediately tired. Deducing that the only thing left was gluten I decided to try out a gluten free muffin recipe. So I made some gluten free pumpkin muffins, had one and did not feel tired. Ah ha I was onto something here.

I buy rice pasta as much as possible and don’t consume a lot of bread. I have found that a little gluten is ok but have to be careful if I have too much. I would say that I am likely sensitive to it as opposed to intolerant. I have a sneaky suspicion though that my youngest son is intolerant to gluten. Just from various things that I have observed when he has it.

Vanilla Bean Cake

Besides everyone benefits; as when I do things like that I do them across the board. I am not making 4 different meals  and I find that we all feel better overall. So I have slowly started to gather a number of gluten free recipes such as Vanilla Bean Cake, Chocolate Dream Pie, Pumpkin muffins, Blueberry muffins and the Banana muffins I tried yesterday.

A fantastic website for gluten free recipes is Karina Allrich’s Gluten Free Goddess. All of her recipes are her own, tried and true. Many of them are dairy free as well but not necessarily sugar free, but I am familiar enough with what to do I simply make the sugar substitution and we are off to the races! This was the Banana muffin recipe I used yesterday and it was delicious. Moist and yummy! The kids loved them. In fact Luke and Chloe were hanging over the counter while I was making the batter, liking the bowl and waiting for them to bake.

I used coconut sugar in place of the brown sugar and boy were they yummy! I did not have any chocolate to add in or her other suggestions but it did not make a difference (and I might do that next time).

All in all it turned out well, even surviving Chloe putting Playdoh in her nose, and having to pause the baking to tend to that. (Yes seriously she did, and she screamed for 10 minutes, reminded me of the time my sister put a tiny doll shoe up her nose – what is it with children and putting small items where they shouldn’t be?)

So if you’re venturing into the world of gluten free try out some of these recipes. Many of them are dairy and sugar free too, yet you wouldn’t know it. (I have a friend who is salivating over the Chocolate Dream Pie and patiently waiting for me to make some so he can have a piece). I have found that there are enough resources and options out there these days to easily live gluten free, etc. without having to sacrifice taste or the treats that we love. True it is a bit of an adjustment but once you get your head around it, it is easy. And I have found that more and more people are going these routes for one reason or another.

Chocolate Dream Pie

If you have found any great gluten free recipes please share them by commenting below. I love to try new things and I am sure other people will benefit as well!