Posts Tagged 'back to school'

Packed Lunch for your Preschooler

Your child is ready to go to pre-school or kindergarten!  You have done all you can to prepare him or her for this experience.  Oh, but you will also need to pack a lunch.  If you find yourself dead in your tracks here are some ideas and suggestions.

First, keep in mind the rules you have established about meals: Don’t ask them what they want in their lunch.  Just pack what you would like them to eat.

Don’t expect the teacher to monitor your child’s eating.  It’s not fair to ask a teacher to make sure your child eats some of the sandwich before they eat their cookies.  If you don’t want your child to eat just cookies for lunch, don’t put them in the lunch.  Put in as many cookies, or chips, etc.  that would be ok for your child to eat.  Accept the fact that some days they will only eat certain foods.  But if they are hungry, they will eat more than just the fun food.

Only send foods that your child can eat independently without choking. 

One way to kill a child’s appetite is to give them juice or a caloric sports drink.  They will most likely drink this and then feel full.  Send water or milk if the milk can be kept cold.

Don’t get too hung up on sandwiches.  Some kids love them, some don’t.  Finger foods work well too.  Instead of a sandwich you can send some cheese slices or cubes, crackers, fruit and a cookie.  If your school allows it, send some nuts, raisins and cereal mix, add carrot sticks and chips.

Don’t forget about yogurt, send them with vanilla or plain and give them something to add, such as fruit, a teaspoon of sugar sprinkles, or honey.  Yogurt can be kept cold by freezing it before you put it in the lunch.  Food in squeezable packaging are also fun for kids.  Unfortunately the yogurts in tubes have a lot of sugar in them so consider them a dessert.  You may be able to find applesauce in a tube.   Kids also like to dip.  Think about sending pretzels or carrot sticks with a bean dip such as hummus or refried beans.  A cold cooked chicken drumstick can be dipped in ketchup or bar-b-que sauce.

Plain beans also make good finger foods.  Cold defrosted vegetables are also good finger foods.  Pack a small amount of frozen corn, peas, or edamame.  They will be defrosted and cool by lunch time.  Small previously baked potatoes are also good for dipping in ketchup.  Sliced apples tend to turn brown and then the kids don’t eat them.  You can sprinkle them with a little lemon juice to prevent browning or use other fruits.  Grapes, strawberries and blueberries are great choices.  Cut up other fruits, such as melon, peaches, nectarines or plums.  You can make a fruit salad or a fruit kebob.  Half a banana, still in the peel is also a good option as well as orange wedges.

 Kids always like noodles.  Many will eat a simple pasta salad consisting of cooked pasta, sliced olives and some shredded mozzarella cheese.  Anything on a toothpick is also fun.  You can put some cooked tortellini on a toothpick with cherry tomatoes or pieces of avocado.  Roll up some slices of turkey or chunks of cold cooked chicken and put them on a toothpick, with pieces of soft fruit such as peaches or nectarines.  Hard boiled eggs are fun for some kids.  Give them some dressing to dip it in.  Only send foods such as tuna, egg, salmon, or chicken salad with mayonnaise if the lunch will be refrigerated.

Overall, be creative.  Don’t worry about what is eaten or not.  Try to send at least one item that you know your child will eat.  It’s also OK is they have the same lunch every day; you can add variety at home meals and snacks.

School Potlucks

Fried Chicken, more fried chicken, pizza, fried chicken, fried chicken and more fried chicken. That’s what entrees were available at the potluck for my child’s class last week. I know people are busy and don’t have time or want to cook. I know that store bought or take out is more convenient and I have no problem with this. But I also know that there are plenty of store bought and take out opportunities that are a lot healthier than fried chicken.

If asked to donate books to the school, I doubt that these parents would choose poorly written stories or books portraying anti-social or illegal activities as desirable outcomes. They want the best for their children (this was a potluck at a private school)and will complain if they believe their child is not getting the best available. So why do they choose fried chicken?

I wonder what these parents are thinking when they purchased all of this chicken. I don’t know all of these parents well, but as a group they are educated and upper middle class or above. It never ceases to surprise me that when we try to provide the best for our children, nutrition is often over looked.

These parents want the school to provide positive role models for their children. They want the best teachers, the most current technology, plus theatre, sports, dance, art, foreign language, advanced placement classes, international studies and travel opportunities, and healthy food at the cafeteria. They want recycling, volunteering opportunities,and college ready young adults at graduation. I am all for this, but I also see that I have a role to play as well. It is my job to model appropriate food choices by providing nourishing food. I know potlucks are parties and are for fun–but let’s also remember that we are always influencing our kids, even through our food choices.