Ask parents what they dread most about the upcoming school year and you’re likely to get a few complaints about the stress involved in having something to pack in their children’s lunch every day.
“The excitement of a new lunch bag and fancy new containers wanes after the first few weeks,” says Cate, a mother of three school-age children. “Slowly, the foods they loved in September start coming back uneaten and you’re forced to use your imagination and stay up-to-speed with what their classmates are bringing for lunch.”
The key challenge in packing lunches, it seems, is being willing to change up the menu as the year progresses. What was fun and delicious at the beginning of the school year may not make the cut by Christmas.
What foods should you avoid? “Sandwiches with ingredients that make the bread soggy, like chicken or tuna salad, and foods with a strong odour,” says Cate. “Kids don’t want to draw attention to themselves in a negative way, so last night’s leftovers may not always be a great choice.”
Lucky for us, the year is 2015 and the internet is full of people willing to share their tips and tricks for packing delicious and easy-to-prepare snacks and lunches.
According to celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli, the key to packing healthy lunches your kids will eat is to “get a little creative in terms of flavour, visual variety and texture.”
For the elementary school set, sectioned containers that mix fruits and vegetables with fun foods may be the key to keeping their interest.
Today's Parent suggests using Bento boxes as a colourful and exciting way to offer a variety of foods.
"I used to give myself a free pass to store-bought snacks; after all, I was making three school lunches a day, 10 months a year. But I committed to making a change when I switched to Bento lunches. I realized it was just as convenient to reach into my freezer for cookies and muffins as it was to pull processed food from my cupboards. I still pack crackers and pretzels as treats, but baked goods are made at home with help from the kids," says Lousie Gleeson.