After working as a school lunch lady for a couple of years, you realize what kids will eat (most of the time) and what they throw away. If food is thrown away, then what good is it? You can also observe what kids bring to school in their own lunchboxes, and how they look at it, and what they trade, and again, what they will eat or throw away.
Children hate to have all of their food jumbled together. The more compartmentalized the better. That’s why those lunch trays that are divided up into sections work the best, even if you are preparing lunch for the kids at home. If you are packing their lunches, it can be done the night before. Of course, if the children are your own (as opposed to school lunches) then you know what they like, and what they will eat, so it makes getting them to eat what you want them to, a little easier.
Storage is a problem sometimes as it can be several hours before children eat their lunches at school. Also, what have they had or what will they eat for breakfast? Some schools provide breakfast and some families sit down and eat breakfast at home, before setting off for the day. Breakfast leads into how much should they have, or will they eat, for lunch? One fact – most kids don’t like crusts on their bread. You can buy ready-made crust-less sandwiches but I’ve never tried them and food prepared by hand and without a lot of additives, is much healthier. It’s cheaper, too. Try and get some whole grains into sandwiches. There’s whole grain bread now that looks white.
A balanced lunch will refuel kids for the rest of the day. Before you try and pack or prepare a new food, try it yourself. If you don’t like it, odds are that they won’t either. A simple sandwich, either meatless or with natural or organic sliced meat (preferably from home cooked chicken or similar), crust-less and sliced diagonally, then placed in a rigid plastic sandwich container is a good choice. Peanut butter and preferably sugarless jelly also works well. Do not make a sandwich the night before because the bread gets soggy. You can prep up then assemble quickly the next morning.
For the extra goodies, use sealable little plastic bags, but make sure that your kids can open them easily. If they can’t open them, then they are not likely to eat them. Easy to eat pieces of fruit such as seedless grapes are great. A little sugarless Jello cup with fruit is also good. A couple of homemade and healthy cookies in another bag, and then perhaps a few pieces of ready to eat veggies or a stick of cheese can complete the meal. Don’t forget to pack a plastic spoon and fork, and of course, a little note that says you are thinking about them. A small bottle of water and a pre-frozen ice pack will keep everything cool. For warm food or soup, use a small thermos.