Children are fussy eaters and getting them to eat healthy food can often be challenging. However, you still prepare a wholesome meal every morning for your family with love and effort. So, when you see that your child has not taken even a bite out of his/her lunch box, you may feel quite frustrated and wonder how to get them to eat. Worry no more! Here are some great ideas on how you can plan a fun lunch box.
First, make sure you get a good spill-proof box with multiple compartments. For the lunches, you should try to include some carbohydrates, proteins, fruits and vegetables in the lunch box. The important factor being, that your kid loves the look and the taste of the food.
Before you start making the lunches, here are some ideas on how to make the lunchboxes more fun for your kids:
- Use shape cutters to cut veggies into interesting shapes like hearts, stars and animals.
- Make smiley faces on items like dosas or pizzas, using olives or peppercorns for eyes and red capsicum or a thinly sliced piece of carrot for the mouth.
- Leave interesting notes for your child in the lunch box, such as, ‘I am so proud of you’ or ‘you are one smart cookie!’
- For older children who can read well, you can leave notes with puzzles or riddles to solve. You can promise them a gift for each empty lunch box and correctly solved riddle. For example, print out ‘some find the hidden item’ pictures from the internet and put one in the lunch box. Write ‘can you find the heart shape or the seashell in this picture?’ Your kid will love playing the game and will look forward to lunch time.
- Use a combination of contrasting veggies and fruits to make it fun. For instance, you can mix carrots and peas or purple cabbage and yellow capsicum in a salad. You can also make a fusion of watermelon and muskmelon or strawberries and kiwi as a fruit bowl to make it really colourful.
- Arrange the food in a creative ways can make a difference too. If your child finds rice boring, stuff it into a chapati and create a wrap. Cut bread into different shapes like stars or hearts using large cookie cutters to make sandwiches.
- Use a toothpick to skewer small pieces of veggies or fruits to make an interesting looking salad dish.
Here are some inspired ideas for healthy, yet tasty foods you can provide for a lunch box:
Spinach-corn sandwich, fruit slices, and crackers with cheese
This recipe takes little time to prepare, it is both delicious and nutritious.
- You will need 4 bread slices
- ½ Cup frozen corn (thawed and boiled)
- 2 teaspoons flour (maida)
- ½ Cup milk
- Pepper and salt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 1 Cup chopped spinach
How to prepare:
Step 1: Melt butter in a pan, and sauté the garlic. Add corn and cook for a few minutes.
Step 2: Then add the spinach and cook until the leaves wilt. Add the flour and mix nicely.
Step 3: Next, add the milk, salt, pepper and keep stirring so that no lumps are formed. Cook until the mixture thickens.
Step 4: Butter the bread, place the filling inside and toast or grill until it is crispy.
Tip: To make it more fun for kids, cut the bread into heart shapes using a large cookie-cutter before buttering. Finish off the lunch box with apple and orange slices and a couple of crackers with cheese spread over them.
Scrambled eggs with tomatoes and onions. Cucumber and carrot slices with fresh grapes
This is another idea that you can prepare in a jiffy. Chop the veggies the previous night and refrigerate them until morning.
How to prepare:
Step 1: Add some chopped onions and garlic in a pan with melted butter or ghee and sauté until cooked.
Step 2: Add chopped tomatoes and cook until they are done.
Step 3: Break 2 eggs over this, add salt and pepper to taste and keep stirring until the eggs are scrambled and cooked to a creamy consistency. Garnish with chopped coriander.
Tip: You can pack this with plain toast if your child prefers that. Complete the lunch box with cucumber, carrot slices and some fresh grapes. You can even cut the cucumber and carrots with shaped cutters to make it more interesting for the kids.
Pizza-style rotis, cucumber raita and melon balls
You can make this with leftover rotis from previous night’s dinner or make chapatis in bulk and freeze them. You can thaw and heat them for use.
- You will need tomato sauce (you can use fresh, homemade sauce or tomato ketchup)
- Grated mozzarella cheese
- Toppings like olives, corn, and paneer
- Dried or fresh herbs like basil and oregano
How to prepare:
Step 1: Spread the tomato sauce on the roti evenly. Sprinkle the cheese over this.
Step 2: Add the toppings like thawed frozen corn, olives, capsicum, and paneer cubes. Sprinkle the herbs over this.
Step 3: Heat this in a microwave until the cheese is melted. You can cut it into triangular slices just like pizza and pack it in the lunch box.
Tip: To make this more fun for kids, you can make smiley faces on the pizza using black olives for eyes and a long piece of red capsicum for lips!
Raita recipe: Add grated cucumber and carrots to plain yogurt. To this, add chaat masala powder, roasted cumin powder, salt to taste, and red chilli powder if you want it a little spicy. Blend it well.
For dessert: Scoop out little melon balls from muskmelon and watermelon using a circular spoon. The kids will find this fun to eat, as they will look like red and orange coloured mini-basketballs! Mix them together and pack them in the box.
Vegetable noodles, sprout salad and strawberry yogurt
You can prepare the noodles the previous night and refrigerate it. Prep the veggies at night and have them ready for the morning.
How to prepare:
To make sprouts: You have to soak green moong dal overnight and then allow them to sprout. Add chopped tomatoes, cucumber, onions, and grated carrots to the sprouts. Add the juice of one lemon and pepper to this and mix well. Pack the salt separately.
For the noodles:
Step 1: Melt butter in a pan, add chopped onions and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes.
Step 2: Add chopped carrots, capsicum, and cabbage and sauté until the vegetables are done, but still crunchy.
Tip: To make the noodles more fun for children, you can cut the veggies into forms like stars, hearts, flowers, Mickey Mouse or animal outlines using shaped cutters available in the market!
Step 3: Add the pre-prepared noodles to this. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
Step 4: If you like, you can add a teaspoon of soya sauce and vinegar to this and mix nicely to make it more flavourful.
For dessert: Blend fresh strawberries. Mix this into thick yogurt using a spoon or a hand blender. Add honey to sweeten this.
Children are hard to please when it comes to food. Changing the menu often and being creative in arranging and packing the food can encourage them to try the meal. Try these tips to motivate your kids to eat well.