Several months ago I forked out $50 (!) to buy a bento lunchbox for my toddler. It’s fantastic, but at the moment it’s also under-used… I also often get asked by parents how to convince their children to eat healthy foods, so lately I’ve put some research efforts into fun lunch ideas for the little ones.
Great timing, as a good friend of mine recently started an online store selling children’s room decor and a range of products to make creative lunches for kids. We’ve teamed up to bring you some ideas to make mealtime fun, plus there’s a pretty cool giveaway at the end of this post where you could win one of two packs of lunch-y accessories from Little Giants Kids Store for yourself!
Make it exciting
My memories of lunchboxes as a kid involve a peanut butter or sweaty cheese sandwich, soft crackers, a handful of browned apple slices or a brown banana, and a muesli bar (the latter was taken out after the school dental nurse said they were a no-go because my teeth were full of holes). Not my parents’ fault; this was typical school lunch in the late 1980’s, but to be honest some days it went straight in the bin as I’d rather go hungry than eat it.
These days there are so many options for you to add excitement to kids’ meals:
- Change up your ‘bread’ types – wholegrain bread, wraps, buns, rice paper, tortillas (you can even make ‘sushi’ using wraps!)…
- Add colours with veges – work with your kids to figure out what they like to avoid ending up with them in the bin. Capsicum strips, celery sticks, carrot sticks, edamame beans; there are a lot to choose from.
- Home baking – Get the kids to help make it and they’ll be even more excited when it comes time to eat the finished product. Even if you don’t want them handling individual ingredients, they can help cut out shapes for biscuits and slices, or you could give them a few recipes to choose from so they feel involved.
- Use different textures and foods – I never force our toddler to eat anything, but I always encourage her to at least try everything (even if it’s just on the tip of her tongue!). Remember that a kids’ sense of taste is different from an adults’; we don’t like eating things we think taste yucky so why would they? Variety will help them get used to a range of foods and after 4-5 tries they may even start to like the foods they wouldn’t originally touch. Yoghurt, home-made fruit and nut ‘bark’, beans, pumpkin seeds, different sauces and condiments… Use your imagination.
Next level lunches
Ah the bento box trend. What’s not to love (aside from the price of the actual lunchboxes themselves)? This has literally taken lunches to the next level, creating foods that are almost too pretty to eat. There are no rules, this is all about artistic license with food. Bonus points if you’re making a lunchbox for filling every space until it’s jam-packed.
CUT IT: Sandwich cutters are the perfect size to make different shapes out of kids’ sandwiches – a boring peanut butter sandwich can be a heart, star or butterfly. Cookie cutters can now be bought in all sorts of shapes to add personal flair to a lunch (whether it’s a unicorn, a pineapple or a Batman logo!).
SHAPE IT: Shapers can create unique designs from eggs or sushi rice. Add designs using sauces, condiments, nori/seaweed and other extras if you’re keen to make it a real masterpiece.
STAMP IT: Leaving imprints in food is an easy way of decorating it. Kinda like sandwich cutters but the inside space is decorated as well!
THEME IT: A cat-shaped sandwich with cat food picks for a fruit salad, a cat-shaped egg, mice made out of strawberries, and fish-shaped gummies? Yes, yes, yes!
Don’t forget this doesn’t have to be limited to lunchbox fillers – you can use these tools and ideas for kids’ parties, play dates and everyday lunches as well.
From food picks to reusable sandwich wraps, lunchbox decals to handwritten notes, silicone muffin holders in different shapes and colours (to add compartments to their lunchbox!) to unique placemats, there are so many ways to add an extra touch of love and fun to your kids’ meals.
I’d love to hear if you have any more ideas that get your children excited about healthy food! Comment below and let me know!
Thanks to Little Giants Kids Store for providing
the inspiration for this post and products for the giveaway!
WIN: 1 of 2 Little Giants Kids Store prize packs!
SORRY, THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED!
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Images / NZ Real Health