Kids are superheroes. They get up early > dress up > rush to school > zip through studies > do their art > do their PE > run & play in the playground > travel miles in the bus to get back home > zip through lunch > and are ready to hit the playground again. They even complete their homework > watch a cartoon > listen to a bedtime story. All in a day’s work!
All thanks to their Supermoms and Superdads who work hard to keep them going. That’s why it’s heartbreaking to find all the well-researched, nutritious food you packed in their tiffin box early in the morning has come back unfinished.
What would you not do to make sure your kiddo finishes his or her meal at school. Well, start with checking these boxes:
1. Make it easy for them
Depending on our personal choices and regional influences, we usually have a soft corner for certain dishes. But you should know what your child finds difficult to eat by themselves. For example, if your child has trouble eating rice on their own or takes too much time to finish, you could give them the nutrition of rice in some other form like dosas or idlis. The food that you have packed should be easy to pick up and eat, whether the child is eating by hand, spoon or fork.
2. Let them have a say
Research says that kids eat better when they are involved with the preparation of their meals. Though you should finally be in charge of what goes in their tiffins, there’s no harm in letting kids be a part of the process. You can get them involved in shopping, menu planning, prepping, cooking and packing the tiffin! You could try letting your child choose between several healthy foods. They’ll feel proud of helping and be more likely to eat something they have helped to make. It may make the process a bit longer, but the benefits could worth it.
3. Pack what they like
Yes, you want your kid to try different food items. But the school tiffin may not be the best place to experiment with food. If they don’t like something, don’t bother putting it in the tiffin. Put food that they will be comfortable eating without supervision. This does not in any way mean that you pack unhealthy or junk food for them, but pack something they like.
4. Pack correctly
A neatly packed tiffin goes through quite a roller coaster before it’s opened. As the vegetables toss around with the rotis, the fruits turn brown and the bread turns soggy, the tiffin may not look all that appetising by the time it’s opened. Avoid mixing wet and dry dishes. Use tiffins with watertight compartments, and avoid liquid preparations like dals. The way you pack the food will determine how fresh it remains. Make use of food wraps, aluminium foils, butter paper, etc to ensure food remains fresh and presentable.
5. Make It Interesting
The enemy of any child’s appetite is Tiffin box monotony. Giving them similar meal preparations every day or on a frequent basis is the quickest way to make them disinterested in food. You can do several things to make the lunch interesting for the kid. Use cookie cutters and moulds to give interesting shapes to sandwiches, fruits, omelettes and pancakes. Make the preparations colourful. Write some sweet words of encouragement on a small piece of paper that brings a smile on their face or give them something sweet if they happen to have a sweet tooth.
6. Don’t be too fussy about a little leftover food
Congratulate your child on finishing most of their tiffin. Don’t pull them up about a couple of pieces of veggies left behind. Positive feedback goes a long way and the child will surely work harder next time to hear a few more lovely words from you.
7. Don’t over-pack
Your kid at school is no different from your kid at home. You are well aware of their appetite and there is no point packing more than they can eat. Avoid complicating their life with multiple boxes and so much food that they don’t know what to do with it.
8. No compromise with nutrition
Your challenge is to make food interesting for your child without losing sight of the nutritional value. Make a weekly plan for their tiffins, so you are able to prepare in advance - from shopping to researching recipes to prepping food beforehand. Cottage cheese (paneer), Rajma (Kidney Beans) and Chickpeas (Chana) are excellent sources or protein. Cheese and yoghurt are full of calcium. Add veggies in any form that your kid likes - cooked, sautéed, as a salad or as a sandwich. Add fresh cheese dips and jams if they help in making food exciting. Minimise sugar and junk. When choosing packaged food or juices, make sure they have minimum sugar and no preservatives, artificial colouring etc.
Every meal is an opportunity to get some nutrition into your superhero. But don’t be too stuck up at all times - let your kid enjoy the ride, make sure they carry a balanced, nutritious meal in their tiffins - and is excited to eat it too!
The School Snacker Box - a full month’s supply of fun, delicious, nutritious snacks to make the school tiffin exciting every day. You can subscribe to it, to receive your box bursting with goodness every month.