Beat the back-to-school blues

Beat the back-to-school blues

It's not easy to get kids to eat everything in their lunch boxes while unsupervised - so here are some tips to help you out!

By Kari Heron

Published: Fri 2 Sep 2016, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 2 Sep 2016, 2:00 AM

This year, I join ranks of parents with one of the most daunting tasks of the week - the packing of the school lunch box. While I have been packing lunches for myself for years, and always pack a lunch bag for my son every time we leave the house since he has been on solids, sending a child to school alone with food and praying they will eat it is a whole other thing.
This September, my toddler will be attending kindergarten and while he is quite a voracious eater when he is being supervised and spoon-fed, he has to be really gung-ho about the dishes to eat them without supervision.
Here are a few tips I will be using to help me tackle the daily battle of the school lunch box.
1. Plan menus weekly before the weekly grocery and market shopping and pack bags the night before to avoid one more chore during the morning mayhem.
2. Pack an assortment of food. Rice and meat alone just will not do to keep kids from avoiding their lunch boxes.
3. Keep the portions of each item small. This will eliminate waste and encourage them to eat, as they will not have to wrestle with two cups of last night's dinner.
4. Stay away from the smelly stuff. You do not want your child to be ostracised on the playground because of the sardines or dried fish lunch you packed. Stay away from very pungent foods.
5. Pack easy-to-eat foods. As much as spaghetti may be every child's dream meal, it does not translate well to lunch as it is very hard to eat. Kids are messy by nature, so avoid making matters worse by packing messy foods. Dishes with lots of thick gravies and sauces will result in splatter art all over their uniforms - and you will have to contend with laundering them all later.
6. Pack finger foods. This simply means presenting food in ways that are easier to grab and eat by hand rather than those that need utensils to manoeuvre deftly.
7. Pack some easy-to-carry fresh fruit like berries and grapes and raw, unsalted nuts and dried fruit as well as homemade popcorn for treats instead of chocolate and other candy.
8. If you choose to pack juices, consider sugar-free ones without additives, unnatural preservatives and food colouring. You could also make your juices from home, chill them and pour them into an insulated bottle or simply pack water.
9. Avoid packing processed deli meats like roast chicken or beef for sandwiches in advance, such as during the weekends.
10. Consider getting at least two different kinds of lunch boxes and lunch bags to mix things up and also because you will need a ready backup for when things get lost or broken or need heavy duty cleaning.
11. Remember to clean and sterilise bottles and spouts regularly and change them out pretty regularly during the year.
12. Ensure that all food bags have proper silver insulation material and choose the more trusted brands that have a history with insulated bags and coolers.
13. If packing dairy and meat, add an extra cooler pack especially in the hotter months. Keep food chilled and at a safe temperature to avoid any food-borne illnesses.
14. Try joining the bento box movement for lots of fun ideas for lunch boxes. My fellow UAE mom blogger Abigail Concepcion Campoy from has lots of great ideas on how to transform normal budget-friendly everyday food into fun works of art that her children and their friends enjoy.

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