There’s nothing more frustrating than opening your child’s packed lunch box at the end of the day, only to discover that most of their packed lunch is still inside it! How can you create healthy lunches that your child will love and avoid having a box full of left-overs?
Don’t overestimate what your child can eat
Research has shown that a child’s stomach is roughly the size of their fist. Take a moment to think about their fist and you’ll see it takes up less space than you think. So make sure the lunch you prepare doesn’t look too overwhelming for a small child. Lots of smaller items look more attractive than a couple of large sandwiches and a huge apple.
Small sandwiches are beautiful
Small, bite-sized items are the ideal thing for a child’s lunchbox, especially when they are young. Cut sandwiches into smaller pieces to make it easier to pop into a tiny mouth. My 4-year old granddaughter loves sandwiches cut into little ‘princess squares’ and usually eats every scrap.
Try tiny pinwheel sandwiches
Or perhaps try a different approach altogether. Spread filling onto a slice of bread, roll it up into a ‘swiss roll’ and wrap in cling-film for about 30 minutes (best done the night before!). Then slice the roll into little pinwheels. Arrange them in a small plastic container to they don’t unwrap before lunchtime.
If your child’s school allows cakes, make sure you keep the portion sizes small. Bake little fairy cakes, and cut flapjacks or sliced goodies into smaller slabs. This is healthier and will look more appetising than a huge wedge of cake. You can bake and freeze them in advance and put directly into the lunchbox still frozen. They will help keep the rest of the packed lunch items cool and will de-frost by lunchtime.
Make a rainbow
Children love bright colours, so use your imagination to create a rainbow-style lunch. Bright red cherry tomatoes, purple grapes, small cubes of golden cheese, and vibrant orange carrot sticks will all make a packed lunch look fabulous. Try to get a good contrast in colours to make opening the lunchbox lid a delight.
Keep fruit simple
Large portions of fruit can look daunting for a young child and little fingers find it difficult to peel some fruits. So make things simple by peeling and segmenting oranges and chopping larger fruit such as an apple (a dash of orange juice will stop it turning brown). Put them in an airtight container for transporting. A little fruit salad makes a very refreshing summer treat – make enough for a couple of days and keep some in the fridge.
Add the fun factor
This tip is really only for those who seriously love making food fun. If you have time, try livening up a lunchbox with some imaginative flair. Use a cookie cutter to make shaped sandwiches (e.g. a star cutter or gingerbread figure) or decorate cakes with a piped smiley face. Not only will your lunch taste great but it will raise a smile as well.
Keeping things small and attractive will go a long way towards encouraging your child to love their packed lunch.
Coming next: Pick up and go’ Ideas for Tasty Packed Lunches
Image courtesy of Megan from Flickr Creative Commons