Can you believe it? It’s school time already!! As a private chef I have been privileged to work with a number of really wonderful families. At one time or another they have all struggled to create meals to nourish their kids. This is the common thread that unites all of the people that I work with. No one escapes it. Not even me with my own picky four year old. These are my tried and true tips to help you create the ‘perfect’ lunch for your child.
1. Involve them! Take them to the farmer’s market to select seasonal fruit. Talk about colors/flavors and textures. If you can, take a field trip to a pick your own berry farm or vegetable farm. Let them eat a white strawberry and talk about how sour it is. Talk about finding the perfect strawberry/sweet pea/ tomato.
2. Accept the fact that they may want to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the next 6 years. It’s ok. It will change. More importantly you don’t have to eat it.
3. My daughter loves the bento box lunch concept and I know a lot of adults who do too. I love having several little things to choose from to eat. If that sounds intimidating and complicated, remember your leftovers. Build your lunches into your dinners. That way lunches are pretty much taken care of.
4. Remember sweets and treats have there place in your child’s lunch too. I have seen too many people—not just kids—deprive themselves then secretly binge on chocolate or other sweet snacks. You don’t want to give your kids an opportunity to start hiding and sneaking food. It’s an unhealthy habit to start.
5. If your child enjoys a diverse lunch then create a menu plan where Monday means noodles, Tuesday means tortillas, Wednesday is wrap day and so forth. You can vary the fillings and sides depending on what is available in your fridge.
6. If your child enjoys ‘food as art’, ie cut outs of cheese, sandwiches or a silly snake pizza, then embrace it, but have them do the work while you supervise.