Thinking Outside of the Lunch Box
It can be a struggle to create new lunches that won’t be received with groans and moans from your kids.
Trust me, I have children who often decry, “I don’t like it” before the plate has hit the table.
But one thing I’ve noticed is that without the eyes of two parents and a sibling on the child, and with a hungry belly and other kids happily eating their own lunches, my kid will actually TRY things.
And enjoy them!
The trials and errors of lunchtime creation are ones that I take in stride. It is one of those things – like many household to-dos, such as laundry or dishes – that would get the biggest reaction if it isn’t done.
Lunch is the fuel for my kids’ day; it is also a break from the learning, debating, problem solving, and running and jumping of school. They sit down at their desks and eat the meal I’ve made for them. This task – while it isn’t always received with a thank you – is one I do happily; it’s part of the Every Day, Care that I take of my family.
In the fall of last year, we renovated our kitchen with new appliances to upgrade the look of the space. One of those upgrades was the Whirlpool White Ice five door refrigerator. It’s the fifth door that really makes this kitchen work-horse extra special.
The temperature-controlled drawer is not only perfect for parties (it acts as an impromptu cooler, where nobody feels awkward grabbing a second drink), but it is immensely handy for planning lunches and snack-time.
I load it up with snacks and fruit that are perfect for popping into lunches, or for grabbing on the go.
And because it is at eye level for the kids, this heap of fresh and beautiful fruit gets the attention it deserves.
Mr. Suburble is grabbing a nectarine or apple more often, too. When they can see it every time they feel snackish, they’re more likely to make the healthy choice. And, because the fruit is tucked away into this drawer (you can change the drawer setting to “Fruits and Vegetables”), I don’t have to worry about food spoiling too quickly, or *shudder* fruit flies.
This well-spread out arrangement of food also makes lunch-time planning SO much easier for this mama. I have two kidlets in full-time school this year… and my pickiest eater is going to have to eat lunches and snacks from her lunch kit.
This got my wheels turning.
I like to sneak a new food into their bento-style lunch containers. With a few old-faithfuls next to one or two new and exciting foods, I find that my kidlets will surprise themselves – and their mother – with their love of new tastes.
Noodles and peas (from the freezer, heated up in the morning), are a meal that she will definitely eat.
Thermos tip: heat water in the kettle and then pour it into the empty thermos while you’re getting breakfast ready. This will heat up the thermos and will keep the heated-up foods (your noodles, soups, chilis) hotter for even longer throughout the day.
Make a double-batch of noodles and create a greek pasta salad for the next day.
Dress it in the morning, as I find that pasta salad gets even better as the dressing soaks in!
Do you have an older kiddo – or hubby – with a more sophisticated palate?
Try skewered foods! Here I did a caprese salad skewer with basil, boccocini cheese and baby tomatoes on a skewer (you can cut skewers with kitchen scissors).
Veggie tip: try making a salad or vinegar-ed cucumbers using a spiralizer! If you’ve heard the saying, “we eat with our eyes”, then you’ll know what fun it is to eat curly veggies in your lunch.
Or maybe it’s all about the sandwich. I will admit, I was a bit reluctant to break out sandwich punches and cookie cutters, but once Lucy and I got to playing around with a cheese sandwich, things got a heck of a lot cuter!
The sandwich punch took off the crust – easy peasy – and the cheese is cut out with a small shortbread cookie cutter. It was lurking in my drawer just waiting for Christmas.
Crunchy Food Tip: Carrots, celery and apple are great teeth-cleaners. Add them to meals for a natural “toothbrush”!
I think that this year is going to be an exciting one for all of us! And trying a few new things and changing up our routines every now and again – or grabbing a new cookie cutter to make adorable mini-sandwiches – will add a special touch to my girls’ days.
When they come home, sometimes buzzing from the day – other times, a bit tired, I can tell them to grab a snack from the fridge. Everything in the drawer is quick, healthy and something they can grab themselves.
And that makes this mama’s life just that much easier.