Whether the kids are headed back to school or logging-on from home, we have some great lunch ideas for busy parents this school year!

Have you heard of a bento box yet?

It’s a lunch organizer! It’s one or two pieces with different slots for food items. Sometimes the top lifts out for larger items to fit in the bottom.

Bento boxes are becoming a popular trend, and you can find lots of fun recipes! The idea is to have lots of smaller options, instead of just three bigger food items. It’s also a way to create a healthier diet for your school kids.

A few easy to throw together Bento ideas are:

  • Make it a WRAP! Instead of using bread for their sandwich, next time you’re at the store, grab some tortillas for wraps. Don’t forget your lunch meat, cheese, and veggies. Wraps are a great way to sneak in some veggies for those picky eaters. Add pretzels and strawberries to the other slots, and you have a tasty lunch!
  • Homemade Lunchable. Create your very own meat, cheese, and crackers lunch! You’ll also have space for some carrot or celery sticks, which will one-up the grocery store Lunchable.
  • Classic PB&J. If you’re running short on time, you can always fall back on peanut butter and jelly on whole-wheat bread, with grapes and corn chips. Your child will never know it wasn’t your first choice!

How to deal with picky eaters

If your child has adopted a meal plan, consisting of chicken nuggets, hotdogs, and mac ’n cheese, don’t worry because you’re not alone!

School lunchtime can be a great time to introduce new and healthy food. In the lunchroom, they may be open to trying new things because their friends are eating it. Also, Mom and Dad aren’t around, and we all know kids are way pickier when their parents are watching.

To get them on the healthy track, don’t be afraid to give them healthy snacks:

  • Fresh fruit: strawberries, apples, grapes, kiwi, oranges, bananas, and raspberries are just some examples.
  • A little bit of salt: pretzels or veggie straws will help satisfy their hunger for something crunchy.
  • Raw vegetables: since we’re trying to stick to lunches that do not require heating, try carrot or celery sticks, broccoli, or peppers. Add Ranch dressing for extra enticement.
  • Healthier bread: try switching white bread to whole wheat.

More often than not, your child’s new or healthier food options may come home, especially in the beginning. That’s okay! Just keep trying and encouraging. Tons of parents deal with the same picky eaters, so there are a lot of resources and ideas you can find!

Let them be in charge

A recurring theme has been to allow your child the opportunity to make some decisions when it comes to their lunches. Let them choose their lunchbox, pick out something new to taste (or compromise on a standard food choice with also a new one), and check out the school lunch menu for special days.

Lunchtime can be a time for your child to show some independence, learn about the importance of re-usable, grow in their appetite, and get healthier. Have a fun school year and make this year the year of healthy choices for your student!