If you are a parent faced with the dilemma everyday of packing a lunch your child will actually eat while providing them with some nutrition, you are not alone. Parents everywhere face the challenge of getting some nutrition into their little darlings while they are at school. You may wonder if it is really worth the hassle or if just letting them eat school lunch will be enough. It is important to realize that the best nutrition your child can get will be packed by you from home. School cafeterias now offer overly processed food that is filled with preservatives and chemicals while other options mean lunch from the vending machine or worst of all no lunch at all. Yet with all your good intentions about sending nutritious lunches for your child you may be having open warfare with them over what you are sending or a teacher’s note may let you know that your carefully packed lunch is ending up in the garbage. But before you give up trying to pack nutritious brown bag lunches here are some tips for sneaking nutritious goods into your child’s brown bag lunch-
•Try foods that are not what they seem. One of the newest trends in recipes is that of adding vegetable or fruit purees to an item. These recipes are designed to provide the food your kids love with the added punch of nutrition that vegetable or fruit purees can provide. You can find recipes for tuna salad, meatballs and even brownies with spinach and carrot puree. These recipes can be found in several cookbooks and are easily searched out online.
•Try less information. Too often in this information filled day and age we think we must share everything we know. While no one is advocating lying to your child, do they really need to know what nutrients are provided from everything in their lunch bag? Sometimes kids are much more willing to try things when they do not know what they are. Try packing one new item in their lunch bag at a time minus any explanation. When they comment about how much they liked something or how good something tasted, simply remain quiet and pack it again. You may find that your child is willing to try something when they are not necessarily thinking of it as “healthy food”.
•Try bumping up the nutrition of existing lunchtime favorites. Many times the tried and true items your child loves in their lunch bag can be “taken up a notch” nutritionally. Try stirring in fruit, wheat germ or raisins to yogurt or pudding. Add grated cheese for soup or sandwiches for added calcium. Consider using whole grain tortillas for added fiber as kids love these a lot more than whole wheat bread. These small changes can add up nutritionally in a big way.
•Try thinking about the way your child likes to eat. While some kids are traditional and prefer a sandwich everyday, other kids are happier with dipping or bite sized pieces of food. If your child is a sandwich lover try adding something nutritious between the slices of bread or wrapped in a tortilla few children will unwrap before they eat. If your child is a dipper make their ranch dressing more nutritious (by adding veggie puree) or send a fresh salsa and then let them dip veggies or baked chips for lunch. If you have bite-sized luncher simply cube up what you want them to eat and send it. Most kids love the fact that they can simply pop the food in their mouths and are off to recess never realizing that you have given them something healthy to eat.