Tuesday’s Tip: School Lunch and After-School Snack Success

August 23,2011
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird( )

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

R’s summer ends today.  He is ready to go back to school and while summer is such a sweet, fleeting moment on the year’s calendar, a fresh, new school year feels good.

Today I started on our second year journey of packing school lunches and while I’d love to say I feel like I’ve got it down pat, I felt a little rusty as I pulled out the containers, lunch bag and the Thermos.  I go into this year hopeful, but since I am also a realist, I know there will be victories and defeats in getting R to eat a healthy school lunch.

Since a good school lunch is not always a given, I try to load R up with a healthy breakfast and then sandwich lunch with a healthy, protein-rich after-school snack.  Here are my tips for getting some healthy food into your school aged child both at school lunchtime and after-school.

*You can read my tip’s on school lunch packing here.  These tips helped me last year, but I left off one major tip which is:

*Relax--this whole “eating lunch at school” thing takes time for most kids.  This was tough for me.  Food is obviously a passion of mine, so I was easily frustrated when R wouldn’t eat a consistently good lunch.  I remember talking to a food mentor of mine who said, “he gets a huge healthy breakfast and eats a great after-school snack…don’t put so much pressure on yourself about lunch, it will work itself out.”  Good tip!

*After-school most kids are hungry, or in R’s case, ravenous.  Think ahead and have a good, hearty after-school snack ready.  Think protein and complex carbohydrates, since most likely they need a good bit of substance in their bellies.

*If you have after-school activities, be sure to pack something for the road.  I have a friend whose daughter would break down in tears every day after school on her way to the next activity.  Once my friend figured out she might just be hungry, she packed portable, healthful snacks for her daughter and the crying episodes ceased.

*if you are able, give your child a little time and space if they need it before you offer food.  Sometimes your son or daughter may have had “one of those days” and made need to decompress a wee bit before they think about eating.

*If you need a little bit of fun or inspiration, check out my Apple Nachos, or stay tuned for tomorrow’s recipe!

Good-bye summer, hello school,