Author: Rachel Enochs
My three-year old has not always been a great eater. Like many other kids, he goes through phases. He definitely had a phase where he pretty much ate bananas and yogurt for what seemed like forever. And then, one day his taste buds just changed (or “matured” as they say) and he began branching out and really enjoying a lot of other foods not “typical” for toddlers.
I think it all started when we scored two free “Schlotzskys for a Year” cards a few years back. For one year, we could order two small original sandwiches every week for free. Grayson and I ate a lot of Schlotzskys that year. But let me tell you what was on that sandwich: Salami, Ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato, purple onion and black olives. Grayson could eat the whole sandwich by himself by age 18 months and he liked every bite with hot sauce. I don’t know what was more impressive: this; or the fact that he could actually pronounce “Schlotzskys” almost perfectly.
We still eat Schlotzskys sandwiches fairly regular (not every week anymore) but he has most certainly branched out in his taste. Now that he has started a pre-school twice per week, I get to pack him a lunch and have a lot of fun with the variety and combinations of meals. Here are some pictures of his first three days at school.
Just like our own diets, it’s important to have balance in what we eat. I am sure to include a healthy variety in his meals like protein (eggs, meat, nuts, hummus, string cheese), fiber (bell peppers, jicama, whole grains), and lots of fresh fruit and veggies (snap peas, strawberries, apricots and cherry tomatoes).
I usually pack the top (cold part) of his box with the above items and then the bottom part with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It sounds like a lot for a toddler but if you have one (especially an active one), you know that they probably burn at least 1000 calories a day…I’m pretty sure Grayson burns that off just by jumping on my mini-trampoline each day.
If you have young kids and have the privilege of packing them a healthy lunch each day, I encourage you try giving them options you didn’t even think they would like. Some of Grayson’s favorite foods right now are bell peppers (packed with vitamin C), pistachios (healthy fats), hard boiled eggs (hello protein) and jicama (filled with fiber and potassium).
Disclaimer: I am NOT a food expert or nutrition coach but I think I have a handle on how to pack a healthy lunch. I do happen to know two women who are experts at what they do and would love to share with you. For more ideas on healthy eating geared towards kids and families, please find my friend Kara’s recipes at Simply Whole. I particularly like following her “What My Toddler Ate Today” series. For inspiration on making your kids lunch look awesomely appealing, please find my sister-in-law Shannon’s website at Bunches O Lunches.