Packing school lunches

Packing School Lunches

Do you have one of those children who doesn't want to eat in the school cafeteria?  School lunches can be a challenge, but with a little preparation and creativity you can make lunches that won't be swapped in the school cafeteria.

Step 1:  Ask your student what they would like in their lunches.

Yes, I know they want cookies, chips and who knows whatever they have seen on TV.  This is a great teaching time.  Share with your student that they need healthy foods to have a healthy body.  Besides, they just might surprise you with what they want.  Children love all kinds of foods.  They want something tasty, easy to eat, crunchy, soft, hot, cold, etc.  They need variety.

Step 2:  Take your student to the store with you to help shop for the lunchtime items.

Children usually eat better when they are involved in the process.  It gives them some ownership and responsibility for themselves.  If your student is young, then give them limited choices.  For older students, you can expand their choices and teach them to read labels to make better selections of foods they want.

Step 3:  Let your student make all or part of their lunch.

It is a great time to teach basic cooking skills such as measuring, mixing and packaging the food for safe keeping.  Young students may enjoy selecting their juice box, type of jelly for the pb&j, or what the lunch is packed in for school.  Older students can learn to make the sandwiches the night before and place in the fridge for quick packing in the morning.  Don't forget that leftovers make really good lunches especially for older students.

Step 4:  Keep your supplies well stocked and encourage them to purchase milk at school to have with their lunch.

Keep sealable bags, small containers, plastic dinnerware, etc. on hand to make the packing experience easier.  Don't forget that stickers, colored containers and party napkins add to the packed lunch too.

Here are some ideas you may want to try to add some pizzazz to your school box lunches.

Cookie Cutter Sandwiches - Cut the bread in the shape of the cookie cutter.

Pin Wheel Sandwiches - Spread filling on a flour tortilla and roll.  Slice into pinwheels.

Cheesy Shapes - Use cookie cutters to cut sliced cheese into shapes.  In separate bag, provide crackers.

Dessert Dipper - Vanilla wafers or animal crackers with yogurt.

Fun Chips - Flour tortillas cut into strips or shapes.  Brush with a small amount of olive oil or spray with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese or cinnamon sugar.  Toast in oven for 6-8 minutes.  Applesauce is a great dip for the cinnamon chips.

For more information, contact:

Nancy A. Freeman, County Director
Harrison County Extension Service
    (228) 865-4227