There is nothing more frustrating than when your kid comes home from school and you reach into the backpack for vinyl lunch bag only to find that it is as about as heavy as it was when you packed it in the morning. Or even worse, when you open up the lunch pouch, you uncover that not one tiny morsel was eaten, and the napkin is still folded.
You don’t know whether to scream or cry. You want to scream because all your good efforts to pack a healthy lunch seem to be unappreciated. You want to cry because you know that your ravenous kid hasn’t eaten since sunrise and it’s now close to sunset. Ugh!
I feel your pain. After too many of these heart-breaking, late-afternoon sessions when my son was younger, I smartened up and decided to negotiate with him on the foods to pack that he would actually eat. I used my ABC strategy during our menu negotiations:
Ask your child what he or she wants for lunch.
Be flexible but make sure that the majority of it is healthy.
Compromise a smidgen.
I agree that there were times during the negotiations that I thought I would have to call in a lawyer, but we finally settled on these lunches. I would kick in money for him to buy milk. All of these menu ideas contain at least 4 of the 5 food groups: grains, fruit, veggies, protein, and dairy:
Baked whole grain tortilla chips
Cheddar cheese, reduce fat, wedges
Low fat milk
Tip: You can slice the cheese yourself or purchase it pre-sliced, individually wrapped. Insider Tip: This was very popular lunch at the lunch table. My son would end up having to share some of the chips and salsa with his friends so pack extras.
Thanksgiving Tuesday Sandwich
Whole wheat roll
Tip: Cook a turkey breast for dinner on Sunday. Use the leftovers for lunches or buy the cooked, home-style turkey at the deli. Insider Tip: This was my son’s favorite lunch, and apparently, the favorite lunch of many of his friends. Years later, I found out that he would successfully trade half of his sandwich to the highest bidder for Red Sox baseball cards. He now works in business in NYC, and it all started with this sandwich.
Roast Beef Roll Up Wednesday
Whole wheat tortilla
Cheddar cheese, reduced fat
Tip: Layer the roast beef, cheese, mayo, and lettuce on flat tortilla. Roll it up and place it in a container so that the shape stays intact. Insider Tip: Roast beef is a very lean cut of beef so is a delicious way to get protein at lunch.
Whole grain crackers
Mozzarella cheese sticks
Tip: Scoop the hummus into the bottom of a small container. Stack the baby carrots on top for easy dipping. Insider Tip: Pack extra crackers to share. There will takers around the lunch table. Trust me.
Eat Out Friday
Take the day off. Pack lunch money. You earned it.
I hope some of these ideas will help you in your lunch planning. Good luck!