Cooking School

How to get kids to make their own lunches

By: Soo Kim, Canadian Living Food Specialist

Author: Canadian Living

Cooking School

How to get kids to make their own lunches

By: Soo Kim, Canadian Living Food Specialist
Do you have a picky eater who demands the same lunch over and over again? Is your child trading away the healthy lunches you've lovingly prepared?

Then, why not hand over the apron to your kids and let them make their own lunches?

Keep in mind your children won't choose what they don't know. So don't just talk the talk: Make a point of introducing new fruits and vegetables into breakfast and dinner before you suggest adding them to your children's lunchboxes.

Follow these six tips to help your children create healthy, kid-approved lunches.

1. Get planning
Have your children create a weekly menu of lunches that include each of:
• fruits and vegetables
• dairy
• protein
• whole-grain foods

The combinations your kids come up with may sound weird and wacky to you, but variety will keep lunches out of the garbage bin.

Need help planning your own meals? Check out Canadian Living's online Meal Planner. Sign in to your My CL account and get started.

2. Shop 'til you drop
Take the kids grocery shopping and stock up on everyone's favourite fruits and veggies. Cut veggies into sticks and store in containers in the fridge for easy access. Sooner or later, your wee ones will pack some carrot sticks or apple slices just because they're there.

Invest in a wide-mouth vacuum flask to keep hot meals hot, and insulated bags to keep cold foods cold.

3. Cooks rule!
Make sure you are on hand to supervise, but don't take over! Remember to let your children make the decisions and take the lead, thus offering them an opportunity to learn about food planning, preparation, nutrition and, hopefully, mom-and-dad appreciation.

Leftovers are not off-limits. Let kids tweak and utilize last night's dinner into their own creations.  Roast chicken might become mini chicken salad pitas, or steak could turn into tortilla beef wraps cut into rounds.

Page 1 of 2 -- On page 2, learn three other ways to get your kids involved in making their own lunch.4. Miniature world
Think small and smaller. Children love little packages because they are just their size, so offer small reusable containers to pack fruits, veggies and dips.  Let kids cut sandwiches into fun shapes with cookie cutters, or slice them into finger-size portions.

Bite-size fruits such as berries or grapes are ideal for little fingers, and kids can easily cut up apples or bananas into smaller pieces.

5. Dippity doo-da
Who can say no to dips? Offer a selection of vegetables or fruits, and let your children choose a few to eat with a bit of yogurt, hummus, spinach or guacamole dip.

Don't forget the crunch factor. Encourage salad lovers to pack lettuce, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes – even hard-boiled eggs – with a container of their favourite salad dressing.

6. Get packing the night before
The morning rush can present a time-management nightmare. Get kids to pack as much of their lunches as they can the night before, allowing for one last-minute item, to avoid morning meltdowns.

Page 2 of 2 -- On page 1, learn how you can encourage your kids to help with their own lunches.
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Cooking School

How to get kids to make their own lunches