Throughout my online lunch box adventures, I have learned a great deal more than I thought possible about packing a lunch. I have been packing my husband's lunches for years now. After supper I place the left-overs in a rubbermaid lunch container, put it in the fridge, and I'm done. Packing lunch for my son is going to be a completely different ball game!
While packing Xr's lunch, I not only have to find a way to keep it cold or hot until lunch, I have to try to ensure that he eats it!
The best tip I have found so far is to include your child when packing his/her lunch. It makes sense, but honestly I hadn't even thought about it! Just like with a vegetable garden, if your kids help with it, they are more likely to eat it. My son loves all kinds of foods, but he is a kid...there are days that he just doesn't like certain foods. Which brings me to the next tip...
Don't pack something your kid has never tried...or doesn't like. No matter how wonderful and nutritious a lunch is, if he/she isn't going to eat it, there is no point in packing it! Not only will your kid go hungry, but it's also wasteful. Make sure to taste test any packed lunch
Variety may be the spice of life, but not all kids like spice! If your child wants and will eat the same thing packed day after day...pack it. My son has already told me that he just wants cold lemon pepper spaghetti for his lunch. He's the type of kids that likes to eat a certain food for days. However, when he's done with that food, he drops it and moves on to the next. I will gladly pack him the same thing day after day as long as it's what he wants and he will eat it. What I plan on doing, with his help and cooperation, is pack the same thing a week at a time. Which leads me to the next tip...
Make a lunch chart. I have read in quite a few places that moms make a chart for their kid to choose from. This such a great idea on many levels! You could list his/her favorite lunch and let them choose. Or you could list individual foods in groups and allow them to pick from each group. My personal favorite is Liz Ruff's chart idea on Family Fun. She has her kids list their favorite foods and then she chooses what to pack for the day.
Make sure the food you pack is easy to eat. This holds true especially for kindergartners and younger kids! Big bulky items are difficult for some kids to handle. Cut sandwiches into smaller portions or fun shapes. Cut up fruit into fruit salad sized bites. Don't pack food in difficult to open containers. There are certain times when they will have to have help from the teacher, but you should try to minimize it.
I read where the average eating time is only about 15 minutes and this has to include many, many distractions!
With all of the distractions in the lunch room, we not only need to be concerned about nutrition, we need to make their lunch fun too! Once again, the possibilities for this are endless!! You could cut their sandwiches into fun shapes...make unique lunch recipes...choose a theme lunch...add a note or a Kids Lunch Box Card...add a desert... the list could go on forever, but you get the idea.
Earlier I mentioned the fridge/microwave dilemma. Here are two of the best ideas and the simplest that I have found. Keeping Xr's lunch cold until lunch was a very large concern of mine. It would be HORRIBLE to pack his lunch and then have it go bad because it wasn't kept at a proper temperature. The easiest way to solve the fridge dilemma is to freeze their drink. This will keep their food cold until lunch time and the drink will thaw by that then...hopefully. One idea I read was to freeze half the drink and then in the morning add the other half. Then he/she would be sure to have something to drink. I personally like my ice packs. I'm going to place them on the bottom of his lunch box...just as a little reassurance.
I didn't think it would be possible to pack him a hot lunch. However, I found that using a thermos will provide a hot lunch. This thankfully solves my microwave problem! Just make sure to add boiling water into the thermos to heat it up. Pour the boiling water out and then add the heated food. VOILA a hot lunch!
There are sooo many wonderful tips out there... I hope these help ease any worry you have about packing a lunch for your child! These few tips have really helped me!