One question I get asked often is how I get my daughter to eat such healthy school lunches.  Her eating habits didn’t begin when she entered school, though, they began when we first introduced solids.  We fed them what we ate.  Nothing fancy, no “baby food” recipes; just plainer, mashed up versions of our own dinners.  I know there are lots of kids’ convenience foods out there- those made-of-air puffs, special veggie drinks, jars of “toddler” food, animal shaped chicken nuggets, and the like.  However, many “kid foods” are fried, made of refined flour, and have lots of added sugar.  I’ve had more success with serving “grown-up” foods in a palatable fashion (fruit on a stick, veggies laid out in the shape of a flower) than relying on foods marketed for kids.
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When my daughter entered school, I found a fun bento-box style lunchbox.  It gives her food a fun feel, and allows me to neatly include each food group without it “touching.”  This particular box even came it’s own stainless steel fork and spoon, lids so that wet items keep to themselves, and a mini container for dips or dressings.  Quickly, she and I were both surprised at how different her foods were from that of her friends.  While peers have asked her why she eats “green leaves” (baby spinach) and “green seeds” (edamame), I’m happy to say that she enjoys what I give her, without complaint.  While kids can go through picky phases (both of mine have) I’ve found that if you continue to offer them what you want them to eat, they’ll eat at least some of it, at least some of the time.  School lunches are no different.
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School lunches

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This school lunch is fairly basic and kid-friendly, but could easily satisfy an adult (in fact, my husband’s lunch for this day was identical, and yes, I packed that too!).  She asked for peanut butter and jelly, but it’s on a brown-rice wrap.  Soy yogurt meets her calcium needs, while grapes and sugar snap peas cover fruits and veggies.  Other days I’ve included pasta salad, leftover chicken, cheese and crackers, hard-boiled eggs, cottage cheese, or rolled deli turkey.  Cucumbers, baby spinach, carrots, or red peppers can stand in for the veggies, while cut-up apple, orange, or even mango fill in as fruits.  Knowing your child and what he or she will like best is essential, but you may be surprised to see what kids will eat when they’re out of the house, and hungry.
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