I hate feeding my kids lunch every day. I admit it. They’re picky. They’re choosy. They’re messy. And it leaves me extra work and extra clean up. Every day. I’m being honest. I hate feeding myself lunch, let alone two little people that insist on examining the color, smell, and texture before they toss half of it on the floor anyway.
When I was working full-time I ate in my employer’s cafeteria because there was a salad bar and it was easy. My children ate at their school cafeterias and we were all happy. But now. Now it’s summer and I work from HOME. And I’m writing this blog post with a selfish motive because even though I’m a dietitian, I’ve said before, children aren’t my area of expertise and I’m still a parent learning like everyone else. I need this info just as much.
Here is what I’m learning as I go, from experience, research, and well, error:
1. Involve your children. They love to help. It may get messy. It won’t be perfect.
But they will be more likely to try summer fruit if they helped wash it, pick it, and/or mix it in.
2. Give them choices. You likely have to take them grocery shopping with you since they are home, anyway. All. The. Time. Might as well include them in the selection for a few meals. Within reason, of course. (Unless you would like an excuse to have marshmallows for dinner.)
3. Choose finger food that’s easy to prepare when they decide they are suddenly starved. Cherry tomatoes, cheese cubes, dipping sauces, pieces of nuggets made with real chicken, nitrite free hot dogs, pepperoni slices, grapes, hard boiled eggs, etc.
4. Opt-in to a local farm bag delivery system. It is a great way to teach your kids to eat local and to explore what’s in season where you live. It’s also a fun and interesting learning experience for the whole family.
5. Eat with your kids and feed everyone the same thing. Moms are guilty of this. We prepare lunch for them and then use the time they are eating to throw some laundry in the wash, wash dishes, sweep the floor, pick up the toys, or just stare into space while we enjoy a second of our children sitting in one place without breaking something or someone. I get it. But monkey see, monkey do. Kids are just more likely to eat something new when everyone else is too (and not dying.) Don’t cheat yourself a healthy meal. (A bag of chips and your child’s leftover scraps don’t count!)
6. Do yourself a favor and invest in paper plates, plastic utensils, and tin foil. Just do it. You have enough to clean off the floor.
7. You CAN make lunch bags (in advance to save time!) even though school is out. I found a great list of 125 ideas from a fellow dietitian. I plan to try some out. Would love to know if you try any out and how they go over with your kiddos.
8. Remember if your children revolt, they won’t starve. There’s always dinner. Promise.