From Yuck to Yum: Lunchtime Strategies

By Donald Deane

Shared by Meg
Not to diminish breakfast, but lunch is the most important meal of the day, as far as I'm concerned. See, my two youngest children are in daycare and I'm not there to watch them during lunchtime. So how do I make sure they eat and get all the nutrition they need? Well, it's not easy, but taking a creative approach certainly helps. Here are a few examples of lunchtime strategies I use myself.

Sandwich Shapes. A sandwich is just a sandwich under normal circumstances, but cut it into a shape like a dinosaur, zoo animal, or spaceship, and it becomes something different altogether. My children swear this makes sandwiches taste better.

Cute Drawings. Look, I can barely draw a straight line, but that doesn't stop me from sticking poorly drawn depictions of cartoon characters in their lunch bags. Doodles let my kids know I'm thinking of them, even if they look like I'm scribbling with my eyes closed. Plus, the kids get a surprise they can look forward to during lunch.

Lunch Bags With Characters. I loved my lunchbox dearly when I was a kid and that tradition continues today with my own children. I make sure they have lunch bags featuring whatever characters they happen to be obsessed with at the moment. It's the best way to ensure they eagerly tear their bags open during lunchtime and actually eat what's contained within.

Food on a Stick. I can't exactly tell you why, but if you take food and put it on a stick, children will eat it so fast you might lose a finger. So, I'll routinely give them things like melon balls on a stick and pancake lollipops for lunch. You can't go to a carnival every day, but this is the next best thing if your little ones are properly supervised at mealtime.

Tapas. Kids love variety, so I'll fill their lunch bags with small portions of different foods like cheese sticks cut into coins, grape halves, crackers, cherry tomatoes, orange slices, and rolled cold cuts. The more things they can sample, the greater the chance they'll eat a filling, nutritious lunch.

Donald S. Deane is the proud papa of three little boys who provide endless amounts of joy and sleep deprivation. He has held a variety of jobs, including college English teacher, newspaper reporter/editor, internet project manager, dishwasher and dogcatcher. Don has written for AOL TV, Moviefone, TheFW, ScreenCrush, GuySpeed, and Arcade Sushi, among others.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.