How to pack lunch for your kids

Before you pack your child’s lunch for school, daycare or a field trip, stop and consider these issues first! Teachers and child care providers alike have do’s and don’t’s that parents should follow when preparing a lunch for their tot to ensure a lunch that gets eaten and doesn’t cause the sugar craze afterward!

How Much Will Your Child Eat?

Parents are often so worried as to whether their child will eat lunch that they overpack the quantity and selections of food. Rather than helping their child eat a healthy lunch, this actually hurts the chances, say teachers/providers. That’s because kids will often fixate on trying to open and taste a little bit of everything, often leaving the sandwich or vegetables as a last choice. Pack sparingly to help encourage every bite gets eaten. And don’t forget a napkin and proper utensils!

Can Your Child Open All Things Packed Independently?

Aaah! All those wonderful single-serve items seem like a great choice to pack in a child’s lunch…unless you are the teacher scrambling to help 15 or so kids open them all at the same time. Those vacuum-sealed bags, foil tops, and other instant-pack items typically require an adult or at least an older child to open. That means while a teacher is working with one kid’s lunch, your child is sitting there, most likely not eating. Consider pre-opening the items and placing in a baggie.

One Dessert is Enough…Really!

The stories that teachers tell about kid lunches! Parents packing three packages of gummy snacks because their kid “loves” them may not love their kid’s behavior for the rest of the day. Or the mom who packed eight cookies that came in a snack pack, then fussed because her child didn’t touch his sandwich. One dessert, equaling about two cookies or one sweet choice, is enough at lunch. And keep in mind that those individual-size packs may not apply to youngsters’ age or needs.

Do Consider Nutritional Value

A lunchmeat-and-cheese sandwich, chips, soft drink, pudding and fruit snacks is not a healthy lunch choice for a youngster. Of course, if everything mentioned is low-fat, the choice becomes better, but best would be a half-sandwich with lean meat and low-fat cheese, apple, low-fat milk or juice, carrot sticks, and either low-fat pudding or a single serving of gummy snacks (not both). Be sure to read the labels and check out the nutritional value.

Keep Safety Standards in Mind

Invest in ice packs and the plastic containers with ice-pack lids and use them with your child’s lunch to avoid food poisoning or other health-related issues. Avoid putting mayonnaise on sandwiches if it will be a while before your child eats it and don’t pack eggs or other items that need to be refrigerated. Most schools/daycares don’t have refrigeration facilities available to hold everyone’s lunch.

Avoid Things that Melt or Ooze

Teachers/caregivers urge parents to avoid packing anything that melts, such as chocolate and even cheese. Things that melt cause a mess, and simply put, kmost ids won’t eat anything that is oozing or overly soft. Avoid throwing in a few Hershey’s kisses into a child’s lunch if it is being carried on a field trip; chances are, they’ll be chocolate piles by lunch time. If packing cheese, be sure to use an ice pack. The teachers/care providers will THANK YOU for avoiding these lunch disasters!

Desanitize Lunch Box Regularly, if Not Daily

A recent study showed that child’s lunch boxes are a top contender with bacteria and overall “yuk” factor. Spray some disinfectant in your child’s lunch box regularly, if not daily, and be sure to clean it out. Young kids sometimes put their discards back into the lunch box instead of throwing it out after lunch, leaving parents with a not-so-lovely surprise at the end of the day.

Get Feedback from Your Child, Caregiver About Lunch

One of the best ways to ensure your child eats a packed lunch is to see what he really wants and what other tots are eating (yup, peer pressure can apply with lunch choices as well). Regularly ask about favorite likes and dislikes; if your youngster isn’t eating it, then stop continuing to pack it (even if your tot swore he liked it). Ask your child’s teacher/caregiver about your child’s lunch time habits as well and any observations/opinions concerning food choices.

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