By Kirk Chu
Lunch break is time away from class, but that doesn’t mean it has to be less educational. Creative meals can spark your child’s imagination and are sure to open up their attitude toward new foods in the future.
So while a sandwich, an apple, and some pretzels might cut it in some cases, trying something a little more creative – making their food exciting full of different shapes and colors – could also be the difference between what you make ending up in your child’s stomach or in the trash.
The Social Kingdom
We all know school lunchtime isn’t so much about eating as it is socializing with friends. With only an hour away from class, who’s going to have time to eat a proper meal? In which case, kids need something quick to eat that’s not too messy – and something that could also be a conversation starter.
Foods that can be dipped or shared really open up children’s minds to the communal aspect of food and might even help them make new friends. Both Chinese food and Spanish tapas are a great example of food cultures that embrace this idea.
Try packing cheese pretzel dippers – pretzel sticks and cheddar cheese cubes with Dijon mustard or another sauce as a dip. These are tasty, easy and great for sharing.
Color and Variety is Key
There’s nothing more boring than a brown paper bag lunch, with a brown sandwich and brown snacks to go with it. It’s both visually unappealing and nutritionally inefficient. Fruits and vegetables have a wide range of colors, so why not use the whole spectrum?
How about a recipe that is colorful, creative and informative at the same time? For instance, an international-themed lunch idea is flag skewers – fruits, vegetables and cheese put on a stick to represent the colors of a country’s flag.
Or how about peanut butter banana slugs? The same classic ingredients of peanut butter, jelly, honey and bananas all wrapped up in a tortilla roll.
A Special Diet or Allergies
If your child is on a special diet, low lactose or gluten-free for example, or if they’re allergic to a certain type of food, sometimes packing a lunch is an absolute necessity. And although food options may be more limited, it doesn’t mean the lunches you make can’t still be creative.
For a gluten-free diet, we recommend quick to make and mess-free quicksand ants. Celery sticks with peanut butter spread in the hollow and raisins stuck into the peanut butter.
Adding a creative spin on lunches doesn’t need to be time consuming or expensive. Simply making the lunches easier to eat, easier to share and more colorful is often all it takes to get kids interested.
And when kids are more interested in their food early on, they’ll likely to be more interested in their food in the future.
// Kirk Chu is a copywriter and content editor at FIELDS China (www.fieldschina.com), your finest online grocery store in China. He’s a native Californian who loves good food with simple recipes and fresh ingredients.