Avoid This Misstep When Packing Your Child's School Lunch

Getting your children to eat a packed sandwich at school can seem like a struggle. After all, since you're not there, your child could simply choose to not eat any of the food you've so carefully packed. But to instill a foundation of good eating habits, you must persist. John Hopkins Medicine suggests various tactics you can employ to get your child to consume healthy snacks and meals by making food fun; vibrant colors and recognizable characters bring a playful element to meals. You can also involve your child in the process of deciding what food should go into their lunchbox. Together you can create a list of healthy school lunch ideas your children enjoy — ones that you approve of — and have them choose from this ready-made list. 

The Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State brings up the point that if you introduce a variety of foods early on, children become more accustomed to trying new things. A good time to do this is at snack times; however, introducing new foods into a packed school lunch is a different matter.

Keep new snacks at home

While it may be tempting to send your child out the door with untested foods in their backpack, the school lunch period is not the best time for such experimentation. John Hopkins Medicine explains that it can take many tries before a child likes a new food, so they might not eat the lunch you've prepared. Moreover, lunch periods are short, and your child may opt to spend free time eating the food that is familiar — and playing with friends, instead.

The best time to introduce new foods is at home; however, it's best not to force any food upon your child. Momables writes that children can feel a lot of pressure, and this might bias them against the food. Instead, be very descriptive about new foods being presented — even when serving fruit for dessert — so there is less surprise when new ingredients appear on the table. "The last thing you should ever try to do is to make your child a foodie," Anthony Bourdain told Esquire. "Nothing could be more annoying or futile." In other words, do the exact opposite of sending children to school with unfamiliar recipes.