In our household, lunch is fairly straightforward. It's one of the easiest meals for me to prepare. Hannah and Hayley would eat the same sandwich every day for months on end without tiring of it. For example, we just finished a stretch of peanut butter and marshmallow creme sandwiches, fruit, and milk. Much to my pleasure and surprise, they have recently begun branching out into tuna fish and grilled cheese.
An ideal lunch consists of adequate servings from at least three food groups. A sandwich, fruit or vegetable, and milk is so appealing because it includes foods from four of the five possible food groups. I'm not a stickler for traditional "lunch" foods, however. Some children don't like sandwiches. No problem. As long as youngsters eat a balanced meal and a varied diet, that's fine by me. Try these alternatives to the standard lunch fare:
- Whole wheat crackers, string cheese, applesauce, milk
- Whole grain roll with butter or margarine, hard-boiled egg, carrot sticks (give chopped, cooked carrots to kids under the age of four to prevent choking), milk
- Yogurt, crackers, and cantaloupe
- Cottage cheese, whole grain roll with butter or margarine, cherry tomatoes (cut up for kids under four)
- Veggie burger, whole grain roll, fruit, milk
When kids are stuck on the same old sandwich, try to vary one aspect instead of altering it completely all at once.
- Try whole grain breads including pita, tortillas, and colorful sandwich wraps as a change of pace.
- Vary sandwich fillings: offer a veggie burger, turkey, tuna fish, chicken, or beef. Tantalize taste buds by adding chopped celery or water chestnuts to tuna salad or combining diced chicken with grapes when making chicken salad. Sliced bananas and apples or shredded carrots make colorful additions to sandwiches.
- Condiments such as mustard may be too strong tasting for kids, but mayonnaise, salad dressings, and cranberry sauce can be used to dress up sandwiches.