Back to School: “Whaat’s for lunch today?!”

Back to School: “Whaat’s for lunch today?!”

The countdown continues and many of you have successfully made it through the first week of 2016’s school year.

Now that the supplies have been purchased and a week’s worth of lunches eaten, it may be time to rethink or expand your lunch choices. So, here we go…

Children’s Communication Center wants to help increase the ease of planning along with some new creative thoughts for your family’s lunches.

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Whole grain, thinly sliced cheese, some deli, and lots of veggies. Photo: LSG

Lunchtime at school is often a rushed experience with socializing not encouraged. Allergy alerts and no food sharing allowed.

So, let’s try to make your child’s experience as enjoyable as possible, since meal time outside of the school environment is a truly social setting.

The variety of lunch containers is vast. Characters, plastic, insulated, metal, straps, handles, washable, go green, bpa free, and on and on.

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Clear bags help a child see what’s packed. Sandwiches cut in fourths make it easier to handle. Photo: LSG via HS

Here are some ideas if you are looking to add a new lunchbox or decide to add one later on.

From Katrina via The Organised Housewife you can learn more about options, how to choose and what works bet for your child. There are also links to other lunchtime topics.

Good Housekeeping has a review for Best Kids’ Lunch Boxes for School which will help you determine the best type for your child.

Want more selections? Amazon has over 17K listed on the lunch box search page here.

Remember lunch notes, either homemade on an index card, sticky note or napkin, OR you can purchase and or download & print from online sources.

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It is the message & thought that count! Photo: LSG

There are themes galore and every shape or color you can imagine. There are notes and jokes! For a quick look, try this Pinterest link. If you are not a pinner, search lunch box notes for kids and see what pops up.

Now that you have the lunch container and notes, it’s time for meal planning. A note can be as simple as a smiley face under the flap of a brown paper bag!

Remember, this blog is generated by a Speech-Language Pathologist’s office which cannot omit the following…

These are great opportunities for language, learning, and social communication, even the negative, “I don’t like_________” comments and the eye rolls, but hopefully more positive interactions once you get underway.

Here is where the fun comes in!

This means you have to be able to give some of the “power” to your child under your guidance. Remember, your goal is to teach, as this is not a test!

Begin by including your child in the planning. You can decide how much help they can offer and guide them through the sequence. They can pick one food to include or plan from start to finish.

Time is often limited and yes, it is easier to skip this inclusion idea but you will see that over time, it will be easier and your child will be learning life lessons.

This is where the food group awareness comes in handy. When you ask your child to give you suggestions for what to buy for a meal, be specific, otherwise, you may get a list of snacks!

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Teaching food groups is key. Photo: CCC

“What grain (bread or pasta), what vegetable (yellow, green, red), what fruit (red, green, yellow), what diary (cheese, yogurt), what snack (crunchy, soft, sweet, salty) and so on.

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Beyond ants on a log, try this. Cukes scooped out, filled with a smooth filling of your choice and top with veggies or nuts. Watch for recipes on YaYa’s in the Kitchen! Photo: LSG

Your child may benefit from your offering two options (multiple choice), again, the goal is not to test, but to help them learn and become familiar with food groups, meal planning, and nutrition.

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Fresh or frozen, blueberries are always a winner. Photo: LSG

Even non-readers can participate, you can draw pictures or download and print for many of these steps.

First, menu planning, whether they help with one day or the week.

Next, creating a shopping list for the “ingredients” for their menu.

Third, preparing the lunch in advance to avoid a hectic rush in the morning.

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Combining food groups provides an easy to eat and nutritional option. Photo: LSG

Fourth, if you have an older child who prefers to purchase meals at school, determine how many times per week s/he can buy lunch and how many days will be from home.

If you want to encourage more meals from home, share the math and show your child how shopping and preparing meals at home saves money. You can then offer your child some portion of the money that will be saved by eating from home.

Or, if you want to encourage budget planning, offer your child a specific amount of lunch money for the week. Help him/her plan how to best use it and still have a meal each day.

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Filling a special jar or a bank (some will sort and count) adds interest to saving. Photo: LSG

There are many child and family budget teaching resources to assist you which you can find through online sources or books at your library or bookstore.

If you have a child who might be a selective eater, then offering meals at school may help to increase tasting of new foods outside of the home. Be sure to preview the menus ahead of time to let your child have input into the decision.

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Colors add interest. Seeing and touching will encourage tasting. Photo: LSG

Some children “think” they want to try new foods but change their minds upon arrival at lunch. This is where your parenting style will determine if you send “extra home food for just in case” or not. Factors to consider include the age of your child, who is at meal time to assist, and your overall goal.

Remember, lunch time is short, do not over pack, be nutritiously conscience and try to select meals that can be eaten in the allocated time and give the most nutrition.

AND, be sure your child can open his/her containers independently as there are not enough adults to open every “tear here” container and bag.

This includes drink containers whether it is a thermos, box or pouch. Lest we not forget the challenge of the tiny straws that have to be pushed “just right” into the opening without a “shower” of said drink.

By all means, pack napkins for spills as there are sure to be those. Check for leaks BEFORE you send these new or used containers off to school.

For younger children, you can consider color coding recess and after school snacks to separate them from the lunch options or for readers, write on the package.

You can also number the lunch containers to suggest the best order for eating with the most nutritious options as #1. Stay tuned for more on nutrition in another blog.

Now for the real fun, what to make for lunch?!

Be sure to add to these ideas based on your family’s interests. To get your started, we share these links.

For our followers in Leon County and the Tallahassee area, here is the link to the Leon County Schools nutrition page. Each county should have a page you can access no matter where you live.

Pinners, here is the link to Pinterest for 101 lunch box ideas.

Thank you to Maria Lalonde, contributor to US World News and World Report sharing Delicious and Nutritious ideas for less than $2.

Ready for the first 100 days of school, try these ideas.

Always helpful, Cooking Light, shares these recipes specifically for lunch boxes and “Healthy No-Cook Lunches“.

Immune Support Snack Kits” via Herchel on Gym Craft Laundry offers snacks for boosting your child’s immune system.

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Add a fruit tree to your yard, share with neighbors, or visit the store with your child. Photo: LSG

And if you haven’t already seen this new concept from Get Prepd, do not pass this by. From their page, “Prepd Pack is uncompromisingly modern, consisting of a main case that houses a versatile modular system of containers and smart magnetic cutlery.” Further their page explains, “We partnered with professional chefs and nutritionists to create an evolving library of recipes tailored to fit a broad range of diets, appetites, and health goals.”

As we all know, good nutrition is a link to improved attention and performance. We hope this article helps your family succeed on the many levels discussed.

Follow us for more Back to School topics and be sure to revisit this page for updates that will follow in an Addendum.

And watch for the updated YaYa’s in the Kitchen” blogs in September.

Last, this Center’s ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologists provide services for children with oral motor challenges which may be related to weakness, coordination, or sensory challenges, any or all which may led to being a selective (picky) eater or limit tolerance of food types/textures.

Contact us with questions, concerns or suggestions for this page!

ADDENDUM: 2016 – 2020

A constant question on our local Moms page remains what to feed our children for breakfast, lunch, dinner & snacks. Here are the latest new links to help you find solutions for your family!

How to increase fiber in your child’s day from Healthy Day can be found here

Quick and Easy Kid Meal Sides  by Savvy Saving Couple

Simple Lunchbox ideas shared by Pure Wow.

Healthy Lunch Ideas (family) by Cooking Light

Healthy Snacks for Kids by Bembu

Jennifer Glockner, a registered dietitian nutritionist recommends, these nine food for our children each day in her article with MindBodyGreen.

15 Kid & Toddler Superfoods are detailed in this post by Shaun Dreisbach for Parenting.

Kid Friendly RecipesBento Boxes for Kids and Snack Ideas by Cooking Light.

Clean Lunches (family) by Cooking Light.

Recipes you can make in a flash, (family/adult) when time is short shared by Spoon University. 

Winning meal ideas from Bon Appetit for your whole family!

Need grain free, here are some pizza bite ideas from Nutrition Stripped.

Allergy Friendly Bento Boxes  by Allyson Meyler Reclaiming Yesterday for The Vine Earth Fare.

Your child isn’t a sandwhich person, most young children aren’t, here are some non-sandwich ideas worthy of trying shared by, Sydney Mondry, in the article from InStyle.

Quick Breakfast ideashealthier sandwich options, and a weeks’ worth of prep ideas for No-Cook recipes from Cooking Light.

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