It’s September, and back to school lunch packing STILL seems to be the hot topic with parents I work with. They tell me it is their biggest stressor of the day…it starts in the morning with ‘what the heck am I going to pack?’ then lingers as they think ‘I hope they like their lunch.’ The stress reaches its peak when the kiddo unveils a barely eaten lunch when they come home from school. Then the perplexed parent starts the drama all over again the next morning! Does this sound familiar? If so, I hope these tips ease the stress of your daily lunch packing.
Packable: Make sure YOU love your child’s lunchbox. That’s right, you. Feel free to allow your children to pick out their backpack, ice packs and even the cooler bag the lunchbox goes in, but you need to choose a lunchbox that is easy for you to pack, clean and store. The more packable and stress free it is, the healthier options you will choose to put in them!
Packee: Every child can be included in the lunch packing routine, and some kiddos can even make their own lunch! Getting a hesitant eater involved in choosing the foods they will eat at school can decrease anxiety at lunchtime. Michelle Steffen, B.S, SLPA, a therapist and mom of three young children, uses our Play Mat as a lunch making station. She says, “We don’t make our PB&J on the counter anymore, we use the Play Mat! The kids love it and it’s a new way to use the product for us. Now the kids can make their own lunch on the Play Mat and I have no mess on the counters to clean up afterwards.”
Protein: Parents often say that they struggle to pack a protein into their kid’s lunches. What else is there besides cheese sticks and yogurt that they will actually eat? Well, we have an amazing protein list in our book (Making Mealtime ezpz: Fun Ways to Fill the Happy Mat), which provides several fun ideas for kid lunches. Your children can even look through the book and help choose what to pack for their school lunch!
Practice: Packing a child’s lunch is not the best time to sneak in a new food, as your child may refuse it and go hungry at school. Put foods and drinks in your child’s lunchbox that they have practiced successfully at home. With the time constraints and chaos around lunchtime, they are more likely to eat foods at school that they are familiar with and enjoy. However, if your child packs their own lunch with you and wants to try adding a new food, then by all means encourage this courageous behavior!
Pretend: Try pretending they are at school getting ready to eat their lunch. Set a timer for the amount of time your child has for lunchtime, then sit down with your kiddo and have lunch together. See if they can open their lunchbox plus juice / milk / water bottle independently. Do they require an extra napkin, utensil or salt packet to make lunch a success? Practicing the lunch routine will help both of you feel more confident!
Pinterest: Need more lunch ideas? Pinterest has a wealth of easy-to-duplicate recipes for themed lunches, holiday snacks and the average kid fare. Check out our Pinterest page for awe-inspiring lunch and snack ideas!
How is lunch packing going for your family? What are your favorite lunch boxes? Do you encourage your kids to pack their own lunchbox? Give us some of your tips for packing a quick and healthy lunch. #ezpzfun #ezpzbook #backtoschool
Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz