In our busy world today, it is hard to fit all the little things in that need to be done on a daily basis. Even the simple things can be time consuming when you have 10 other little things that need to be done at the same time. An easy way to eliminate one daily task is to teach your children to make their own healthy lunches. Along with their other daily chores this is one that will directly benefit them in many ways. First of all, they will have more say in what goes into their lunch bags. If they are helping you pick out the food for their lunches than they are more likely to eat the lunch rather than just throwing away anything they don’t like, which means they end up throwing away your hard earned money.
As with anything else that you are teaching your children, the younger the better. If you get your child in the habit at an early age, it will be like second nature to them as they grow older. Of course, you can not hand over the butter knife to a 4 year old to pack their lunch bag for preschool. You can however, start out by letting the child help you pick out the foods they would like to eat for lunch when you go shopping. Having your child help you pick out the lunch foods will help them learn to make healthy choices and also keep them busy while you are in the store doing your grocery shopping.
Little One’s Will Want to Know Why?
Teach your child about healthy foods and nutrients and why their body needs them. Explain to them that nutrients are what we get from eating healthy foods and that is what helps us create healthy bodies. If you show by example, you will be more successful and healthier yourself.
Now, to teach your child how to pack their own lunch. You first need to start out by making a list of lunch food items that you have available, then let them choose what sounds good to them for that day. The list can be made according to the food pyramid so that your child can choose the proper amounts needed for a balanced meal. This way only the foods that you approve of will be on the list, but yet, your child still has options.
Preparation is the key
When you get home from grocery shopping you can have your child help you unpack and put away the groceries and at the same time, you can have them separate out some of the lunch options for the week. For instance, if you bought baby carrots, grapes, trail mix, celery, gold fish crackers, etc.., the child can go ahead and split them up into reusable containers or baggies (baggies can be brought back home and reused to reduce the effect on our environment). One they are split up, they will be quicker to grab when throwing together their lunch bags and lunch boxes in the morning. You can also use this same technique with sandwich foods, get an airtight container and stack what you would generally put on the sandwiches, like bologna and cheese, or ham and cheese, turkey and cheese. This way when the sandwich is being made all your child has to do is open the container and pull out the meat and cheese at once and put it on the bread.
Steps for your child to make their own lunch:
1.get out the lunch bags
2.look at the food pyramid with the available choices for the week, make their selection
3.get out a couple slices of bread, if a sandwich is the choice for the day
4.grab the container out of the fridge with the different meat and cheese options, take the selection of the day and put it on the sandwich. Baggie the sandwich and put in the lunch bag.
5.While putting the sandwich meat container back in the fridge, grab the pre bagged fruit and vegetable choice of the day and toss that into the lunch bags. Also grab a baggie of the crackers or trail mix and toss those in the bag as well.
6.If you allow a sweet snack, like a granola bar, toss that in the bag and you are ready to go. Sweet snacks can be limited to certain days of the week.
Another hint that could help is if your child uses reusable lunch bags and you like to send fruit juice boxes with them for lunch, you can freeze the juice boxes and by lunch time the juice will have defrosted and now your child has a cold drink and the fruit and vegetables can remain cool until lunch.
You Don’t Have to Do It All
Even though you are Mom and Dad, you do not have to do everything for your child. Making a lunch is a simple enough task that any child can get it done without much assistance (of course supervise the younger ones during the whole process and assist when needed). The younger oneswill get a feeling of accomplishment and always let them know that you are proud of them and that they did a great job. Older kids might complain a bit, but maybe not as much because they at least have a say in what they eat that day. This process should take no more than 5 minutes and your child will be set up for a good healthy lunch for the day. A good healthy lunch is important for any child, it will keep them fuller longer, give them the energy they need to be active in their daily tasks and keep them more alert in class. So take a load off Mom and Dad, the kiddos can handle this one.