by: Jodi Holland, RD
Want to build your child’s confidence, teach responsibility and independence, plus alleviate a bit of your own workload? Have I got the answer for you!
Preparing our kids for growing up is a big job. We teach them read, how to be a good friend and how to stay safe. And, just as with any other life skill we want them to learn, taking care of their body and what they put in it is important. We know that when people have basic food skills, and know how to cook, they tend to eat healthier.
So, with just one month of the new school year under our belt, what better time than now to get your kids in the kitchen! I must admit, packing lunches is not one of my favourite things to do. But when using this task as an opportunity to teach my kids about healthy choices and how to make a balanced meal, it’s right up this dietitian’s alley!
This year, my school-age kids have been helping to plan and prepare their lunches. Whether you need to send a snack for your preschooler or want your preteen to be responsible for creating their own lunch, children can help at any age. Check out Cooking with Kids of Different Ages to learn more about age-appropriate tasks for your little one.
Here are my family’s Top Five Tips for Packing School Lunches!
- Get the right equipment. Sort through your drawer of reusable containers. Does every container have a lid? Are they labelled with your child’s name? Aim to have a container or compartment for each food group for easy packing.
- Communicate your criteria. Define what makes a healthy lunch and snack for your little one. Encourage your child to pack the following:
□ Starchy choice (i.e. a whole grain)
□ Protein choice (i.e. a meat or alternative/ milk or alternative)
□ Fruit or Vegetable
□ Protein choice
- Put your little masterminds to work! Have your child create a list of foods they enjoy from each food group. Involve them in grocery shopping for new food inspiration. Having the right food available is half the battle.
- Make it a routine! At my house lunches are always packed the night before. Decide what will consistently work at yours and stick to it. Have containers and food easily accessible for little hands to gather.
- Support their choices. Mission accomplished if they followed your criteria with the food available to them. Not happy with their food selections? It may be time to reassess why it’s in your cupboard.
Need some new lunch and snack ideas? Have a selective eater at home? Contact us for some fresh ideas!