Among their friends, most kids will eat or experiment with new foods so as to be part of the group, and not stand out as 'being different'. Take advantage of this tendency and include one new food or one less favourite food into the lunchbox.
• Usually kids will prefer foods that can be eaten with their fingers. This makes fruits, raw vegetables and sandwiches highly suitable for the lunch box.
The lunch box or bag should contain a variety of foods, of different shapes, and textures – the same as included in the meals at home.
• Even though sandwiches are the traditional lunch choices, other high-protein options include sausages, chicken slices or nuggets, meatloaf, hard boiled eggs and cheese slices.
• If you choose to pack sandwiches, experiment with different fillings for the sandwiches: butter, pureed fruit or vegetable, grated carrot, raisins, mashed banana,
chicken, tuna fish or ham.
• Cut sandwiches into small (1/4 slice of bread) pieces or strips for easy handling. Or be creative by using various cookie cutters to create sandwiches in the shape of
hearts, stars, or even Mickey Mouse or other animals.
Off-the-shelf nutritious choices
Raw fruits and vegetables are great to include. Make them easy to eat by cutting into small pieces, peeling off the skin, etc. For treats, oatmeal raisin or cookies, vanilla wafers or mini-fruit muffins can provide added nutrition. In addition, there are many single-serve choices you can purchase off the shelf such as puddings, fruit sauces, sliced fruits, etc. Each comes in its own container which can be thrown away or recycled after the food is eaten.
'Specially for you' surprise
Don't forget to include a surprise – either a favourite food or a note, sticker, or cartoon – anything that says, 'You are special and I care for you.' Your kid and his or her friends will look forward to your lunches packed with such love and nutrition.
Hot weather considerations
One note of caution about packing mixtures of foods during hot weather. Unless the lunch can be refrigerated until eaten, you must be very careful to pack only those foods and mixtures that will not spoil easily. This means avoiding mixtures with salad dressing, mayonnaise, or egg- or milk-based sauces.