Swapping out the typical lunchtime sandwich for something new might affect your morning routine, but it shouldn’t affect the appeal of your child’s lunch. Because sandwiches typically contain carbohydrates kids need for energy and protein they need to feel full, focus on getting both of these components into every sandwich-free lunch. And as with any meal that contains perishable items such as meat or dairy, pack her lunch in an insulated bag stocked with at least two ice packs.
Wrap It Up
Tucking standard sandwich fixings inside tortillas lets your child taste her favorite flavors but with slightly different texture. Wrap up cold cuts and cheese, or fill tortillas with beans and rice. If your child doesn’t mind cold quesadillas, melt cheese and spinach or shredded chicken between tortillas and quarter them. Look for a brand that lists whole wheat flour as the first ingredient, advises the site.
Let Her Graze
Forego the idea of a main course altogether by packing your child’s lunch with a lot of small bites that add up to a satisfying lunch. Fill small containers with slices of cheese, pretzels, mini bagel halves, grape tomatoes, hard-boiled egg halves, rolled cold cuts and sliced fruit. If she has a favorite kind of dip, pack a container of that along with appropriate dippers. For instance, send her to school with hummus and pita chips, red pepper strips and cucumber spears along with a side of yogurt or shredded chicken for protein.
Send Soup or Salad
Both soup and salad can be customized to your child’s preferences and can deliver all the nutrition she needs. Hot soup isn’t a safe choice for a young child’s lunch, but an older child may be able to handle it. In the morning, preheat an insulated thermos with boiling water, then add piping hot chicken noodle soup or chili. Make a fruit salad with yogurt dressing and topped with chopped nuts, or top a bed of lettuce with veggies, crumbled bacon and shredded cheese and send along a packet of dressing.
Your child may happily eat last night’s leftover quiche or fried chicken cold in today’s lunch, but if she resists leftovers, try transforming them into something new and appealing. Toss leftover beans and meat with spiral pasta and Italian salad dressing, or make English muffin pizzas topped with cold vegetables. Another surefire hit is leftover breakfast food. Make an extra-large batch of pancakes or scrambled eggs one morning and pack the leftovers in her lunch the next day.
References and ResourcesFoodSafety.gov: Keep School Lunches Safe
Eating Well: How to Buy Healthy Tortillas at the Store