August 7, 2008

Liven Up Lunch Time

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I always try to pack nutritional school lunches for my children. I spend time cutting vegetables into appetizing shapes for dipping, heating protein-packed chicken noodle soup and removing the crust from Trevor's PBJ's on wheat bread. I slice fresh strawberries and apples, add graham crackers and cheese, and provide all-juice boxes, trying to give them healthy brain food for the school day.

But though I try to pack good food choices, I'm never really sure my children are eating their carefully-chosen snacks and sandwiches. I had visions of carrot sticks being tossed in the trash and Twinkie trades and chocolate exchanges, knowing snacks and treats can seem like "forbidden fruit" to kids toting less sugar and salt.

I want to liven up their school lunches this year and entice them to eat better food choices by packing some surprises for them to discover. I figure the more fun I make their lunches, the more chance I have of getting my children to actually eat them.

Some of the ways I plan to make vitamin-rich lunches more appealing include:

  • Sandwich Art  I use milk, food coloring, and a clean paint brush to write their names or draw simple pictures on their sandwich bread. Mixing food coloring in milk makes an edible 'paint' that won't harm the bread or their tummies.

  • Star Sandwich  I use cookie cutters to make simple sandwiches in fun shapes like stars.

  • Mid-Day Pick-Me-Ups  Inside their snack bags of raisins and fish crackers, I hide short notes of encouragement to wish them good luck when they are taking a test, or simply to tell them to have a good day when they got off to a rocky start in the morning.

  • Homemade "Happy Meal"  I sometimes create my own "happy meals" by hiding a small toy surprise at the bottom of their lunch, like a sticker or plastic ring, much like their fave meals at fast food restaurants.

    Looking for more creative solutions? Click here to see our best Dream Team stories.

    Do you have ways of making eating healthy food more fun for kids? Click the comments link below to find and share ideas.

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