Foolproof lunch ideas for kids have to satisfy two often-contradictory goals: a kid’s taste test and his parent’s “good food” definition. Adding to the difficult mix are websites and magazines with ridiculously ornate foods that more closely resemble artistic sculptures than the basis of a child’s lunch. No one but a Stepford wife would spend hours creating two-story decorative cupcakes that will hardly survive the trip out the door, much less the timeframe between arriving at school and lunchtime. The best advice for any parent is to take the workable ideas and modify them according to the home pantry contents and available lunch preparation time.
Some lunch ideas for kids which can satisfy a child’s taste test and a parent’s nutritional requirements include:
• Rotate the use of sandwich “roll-ups” and pita pockets with regular bread slices to hold sandwich contents for variety.
• Naming a food with a fun name might increase a child’s interest. “Ants on a Log” sounds a lot more “fun” than celery sticks filled with peanut butter or almond butter and decorated with raisins or craisins.
• Pasta salads made with tri-colored rotini can hide a lot of veggies when tossed with some grated cheese and a child’s favorite salad dressing.
• Save the lunch’s “dessert” as an afterschool snack. This helps to ensure that your carefully prepared carrot sticks won’t be skipped in favor of a sweet.
• Make lunch a “dipping” event. Use hummus, a nut-butter or a spreadable cheese as the dip and provide both vegetables and whole-wheat crackers for dipping.
• Grilled cheese sandwiches can be sliced into 6 to 8 finger-food rectangles.
• Use crunchy rice cakes with a spreadable cheese or hummus as a novel open-faced sandwich.
• Cube cheese and ham or turkey. Alternate black olives, green olives, green peas, grape tomatoes or whatever else tickles your child’s fancy as “shish kabobs” on toothpicks.