Lunch with a punch!
If you’re a parent that sends packed lunch with your kids to school, there’s no doubt the ubiquitous lunch box is probably the bane of your existence! Come June and a new academic year begins. This not just implies shopping for stationery, shoes, and uniforms, or being worried about how the next five sets of class tests are going to go. If you actually think about it, on a daily basis, it is their lunch boxes and what must go into it that you fret about the most.
Chances are you’ve gotten your kids used to veggies already, but then there are some of you still trying to force it down their throats! There are kids who won’t look at a fruit if you send it as a mid-morning snack, but will happily indulge in two packets of potato chips. Then of course there are those children who just detest eating. They will throw their food on the playground. And some thoughtful ones even feed the birds! But no, they will just refuse to eat. What a parent does then, you wonder.
We thought there’s no better time than now to address the issue and help you tweak things a little such that your kids enjoy a good, healthy lunch, and at the same time, you are not required to be the executive chef of a fancy-shmancy restaurant to be able to put together an interesting and fun lunch everyday.
1. Presentation matters
Ever notice how your kids go “ewww” when they see something they don’t like the look of? The same goes for their lunch. If they don’t like what they see, they’ll find excuses to not eat. So how about think of new ways to present their lunch? Use cutters to give run-of-the-mill sandwiches different shapes. Use ketchup to write “U R SPECIAL” on that grilled sandwich, if you please. Arrange food items aesthetically, even if it’s only chappati and brinjal fry you’ve got to offer. You could poke veggies like cherry tomatoes with cute food picks. Use smaller colourful boxes for the dip, ketchup, or sides. The internet is inundated with plenty of ideas. Spend some time online!
2. Rework the favourites
So your kid already likes mac and cheese but to change things up a little, why not bake it in the form of a roulade next time? If it’s palak paneer or mincemeat that’s on the menu, you don’t need to pack the rotis and the sides separately. Make a wrap and you’ve probably earned yourself that extra brownie point for being a cool parent!
3. Add a treat, sometimes!
Of course you want your children to eat healthy but the tussle between you and your offspring when they want to indulge in junk food or anything not particularly healthy, is quite a common occurrence. Sometimes, it is okay to cool off a little and instead of going all out and packing them a couple of slices of pizza that you ordered in, why not give them pizza, except make it at home, for a change. On a day that you’re packing a lunch that you know he/she doesn’t particularly fancy, it’s okay to send a bite-sized sweet treat occasionally.
4. Grow your own garden
If you have the time, energy, and space, to grow your own garden, you really must! You could get your kids involved too. From planting seeds to watering them everyday, they will actually see their hard work bloom and grow, giving them enough reason to be excited to eat from their home grown produce.
5. Plan in advance
Maggi was probably your go-to meal in hostel when you didn’t like the food served in the cafeteria or when you ran out of onions or flour to make your own lunch. But don’t expect your kids to enjoy it on an everyday basis! One of the biggest mistakes we make is not having our week planned in terms of meals. Before the week begins, make sure to create a menu for the week so you have exactly what you need stocked up in your larder, to make your child’s lunch fun and your life less hassled.
With that, we sure hope this academic year is as enjoyable for you as it is bound to be for your kids. Like they say, necessity is the mother of invention, so if and when you think Meal Plan A isn’t working, don’t forget there are 25 other letters in the alphabet!