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By: John Adams, author of and dad of two young daughters
Posted on: Aug 10, 2019

Making Epic Lunches for Kids

The school holidays are in full swing and you are probably packing lunches to eat while on the go with your children. How, though, do you pack an epic lunch?

Regardless of whether you are packing for a school holiday picnic, or a meal to be had at school, three basic rules apply: 1) You want the food to be nutritious, 2) You want your child to eat the food, and 3) You want to keep waste to a minimum.

Here are some ideas on how to make epic packed lunches for your children.

Make food colourful

Foods of different colours contain different nutrients. The more colourful your food, the more nutrients it will contain. I always keep this in mind when packing lunches for my kids. I may give them some orange, carrot sticks, green grapes and red cherry tomatoes. This way I can be sure they’re getting a good range of the nutrients they require.

Make food fun

There are many ways you can make food fun. Are you making sandwiches for your child? If so, you can cut the bread so it looks like a mouth with sharp teeth. Some vegetables can be cut into a shapes like a heart or cut out letters to spell a word. This can work particularly well if you are trying to get your child to eat something they are not keen on, or trying them with something new. The fact the food looks fun distracts them from what they are actually eating.

Get your children involved

Get your children involved with making the packed lunch. Maybe they can come shopping with you to select items? Maybe they don’t like your idea of giving them olives, but love the idea of having carrot sticks and humous instead? Get them involved and ask what they’d like to eat. You might be surprised by what they suggest.

Make sure packed lunches are prepared using hygienically cleaner utensils; like an antimicrobial-treated chopping mat from Conimar.
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Beware of allergies

Your child may not have allergies, but another child might. Many schools have strict rules stating that packed lunches must not include nuts. Foods like nuts are best enjoyed at home to avoid any complications.

Tell your child how you feel

Maybe you can write your child a little note and leave it with their lunch wishing them good luck, telling them how special they are or saying sorry for something you have done that’s upset them? It’s just a nice way to let your kids know you are thinking of them. This is an especially good idea for anyone who has children starting a new school in September.

Reusable containers are King

Why give your child a drink in a single-use plastic bottle when you can give them a refillable bottle? Also, you can buy cling-film alternatives that are made of wax and can be washed and used time and again. Make sure your child brings fruit peelings home so they can be composted and so on. It’s important our children get the environmental message and this is one way you can get them thinking about the world they live in.

Don't be limited

I hate to use a cliché, but think outside the (lunch) box. Sandwiches do not have to be the main part of a child’s meal. Depending on their age and where they are going to be eating, they could take soup in a flask. They can have salad or cold pasta dishes. Latin-American style empinadas make for a great sandwich alternative and are very easy to make.

See what works

Finally, keep an eye on what food your children bring home uneaten. If you give them cherry tomatoes or kiwi fruit three days in a row, and each day it comes home uneaten, you know to try something else.

I always find making packed lunches is good fun. You have to be creative and I like it when an empty lunch box comes home. I’m not going to tell you I get it right all the time, because I don’t, but don’t be afraid of experimenting.