5 Fun Lunches Kids Can’t Resist

By: Rhianna Cenci, Retail Dietitian Kinsley’s ShopRite of Brodheadsville

Getting kids motivated to eat brown bag lunches can be a challenge for parents. This school year, try shaking things up with these fuss-free, healthy and fun ideas for getting your children excited about packed lunches!

  1. Sandwich Sushi — Using a rolling pin or heavy pan, press out two slices of whole-wheat bread until thin. Spread with natural peanut butter (you can use soy nut or sunflower seed butter for nut-free schools) and a handful of raisins. Roll up and slice like sushi.
  2. Little Dippers — Kids don’t always love combining foods, but they do love dipping! Hummus, salsa, and Greek yogurt mixed with Mrs. Dash seasoning make great dips, and you can use their favorite veggies, whole-grain pita sliced into strips, or even baked tofu to scoop it up.
  3. Star Performer — Cut sandwiches, firm fruit like watermelon, and reduced-fat cheese into fun shapes using a cookie cutter. Food that looks exciting (stars, hearts, rectangles) is appealing to kids even if the actual meal is the same food you always pack.
  4. Tempting Tapas — if your child tends to get bored of food easily, give them a sampler of a lot of different “appetizer” type foods — grapes, whole-grain crackers, and reduced-fat cheese or whole-wheat mini bagel “slider” sandwiches with different fillings (PB and banana, turkey and guacamole, tomato and part-skim mozzarella) or an assortment of salads (three-bean, rainbow pasta, chicken or tuna, fruit, or traditional garden).
  5. Zoo Keeper — fill your child’s bag with animal-inspired food! Try ants on a log (celery spread with nut butter or reduced-fat cream cheese and dotted with raisins), animal crackers or whole-grain gold fish, or spiders made out of mini cheese rounds (like Babybel) and whole-grain pretzel sticks. You can make butterflies by using a clothespin to clip the middle of a snack baggie and filling each side with a different snack (grapes and cherry tomatoes, for example); the filled halves look like wings and you can decorate the clothespin with a sharpie to look like the butterfly’s body! Strawberries studded with mini chocolate chips make great lady bug sweet treats, and we bet you can think of even more creative ideas, too!

Other things to keep in mind when packing a lunch include:
• Having the proper containers for storing and reheating food safely
• Using ice packs to keep the food chilled until lunchtime
• Giving your child options so they are involved in the lunch-making process.
• Try coming up with fun names for their brown bag favorites,like “Elephant Food” for unsalted peanuts, “Monkey Mix” for trail mix, or even calling broccoli florets “little trees.”

Even the smallest changes can make your child more interested in healthy food, so experiment with different options
and see what works. Pretty soon, you’ll be a packed lunch pro!