You all know how important nutrition is for your growing children. You worry they aren’t getting all the nutrients they need every day, and that can especially be worrying if your child is a picky eater. School age children are eating lunch at school, and you hope they are getting a balanced meal, but chances are they aren’t. Despite new nutritional standards in 2015, changes in schools are slow, and new implementations of standards could take years to finally make it into school lunch programs. Of course, when they are, there is no guarantee your child will eat what is provided. My last visit to my niece’s school for lunch came with disappointment as I watched child after child dump their fruits and veggies into the garbage can.
With things as they are, I think it’s time for more people to think about sending home lunch if they can afford it. There are many ways to make lunch fun and nutritional, and even get the pickiest of children to try a few new things. My sister’s kids are definitely among the pickiest, but we have found ways to send lunches to school with them that get eaten, which if you have picky eaters as well, you know is high praise.
Rice balls are probably the best way to fill up your kid with fun and nutrition. Called onigiri in Japan, rice balls are great because they are portable, filling, and easy to make. Because rice doesn’t have a strong flavor, you can fill or mix your rice ball with just about anything! I commonly use shredded meats, like chicken and beef, or canned tuna mixed with a little mayo and soy sauce. My nieces like when I fill theirs up with peas and carrots. Using roasted seaweed, you can cut out fun shapes like faces, or hearts and stars, and stick it on the outside of the rice ball for added decoration. I got my niece, the world’s pickiest eater, to first eat seaweed when she was 4 years old when I made a face for her rice ball and told her “it’s green paper you can eat!” Worked like a charm! It was three years later I told her what it actually was, and now (at 10 years old) she likes to eat whole sheets of seaweed all on it’s own. Try it, and see if it works for your kids!
Shaped food just tastes better, so says a 6 year old, and so say I (eat a mickey mouse shaped pancake, and tell me it doesn’t taste better than a normal one). With things like cookie cutters, sandwich cutters, or your own ingenuity, you can give shape to anything; vegetables, fruits, and of course sandwiches. My nieces love when I make them bunny apples, which even gets them to eat the skin on apples!
Add a Healthy Dessert
An easy way to add a smile to your kid’s face for lunch is to throw a small dessert into the mix. But dessert doesn’t have to be completely unhealthy, and your kids don’t have to know that. Try something like a hazelnut cupcake. No bleached white flour here, this cupcake is made from hazelnut flour. The deliciousness of a cupcake with the nutrition that hazelnuts provide make this a great choice for a dessert for your kid’s lunch. Add some fruit or rainbow sprinkles in the mix for some added color!
Mila is a writer with a BA in English Linguistics living in beautiful Boise, ID. Her ambitions include traveling the world, studying languages, and taking pictures of her dog, Baymax.