This post is sponsored by the School Nutrition Association. All opinions are my own.
We’ve been back to school almost a solid month and I’ll say the transition to becoming a full-time kindergartner has been as eventful as we thought it would be. However, I will say one of the highlights has been lunch. Hattie has loved buying her lunch at school and she feels so empowered by making her meal decisions on her own. I honestly thought we were going to pack lunch every day, but after the first week, she had different plans. The first week the menu came home and honestly, some of the options really made me scratch my head, but I’ve learned that Hattie is making the best choice with the available offerings. I also remembered from attending the annual School Nutrition Conference, the educators want to offer good options for our children that they will eat. It may not be what we would pick, but it fits within the nutritional guidelines. On our walks home from school, I am hearing that she’s picking extra fruit or veggies for lunch. I call that a mom win!
Truthfully, the first day we agreed to buy lunch, I was frantically texting my friend who works at the school for all the details. I mean, how can a 5-year-old possibly buy lunch on her own and make good choices? My friend assured me that there is a system in place and that she would eat. However, when I pick her up every day and ask her what she picked for lunch, she is making great choices and I’m so proud of her.
If your child is needing some helping with making choices about their lunches, here are a few things to consider. We like to make that Hattie’s toolbox is full of the right information to make good choices at school.
Discuss Lunch Options as a Family
Each week, we look at the menu, talk about the options and decide if Hattie will bring or buy for the days of the week. Lately, it’s been more buying than bringing, and that is okay. We always discuss that it’s wise to make good fruit, vegetable and entree choice and of course drink her milk. She always opts for white milk over the flavored varieties, and I’m okay with that.
Give the Freedom to Make Choices
Even if it’s not the choice you would make for your child, let them decide what they want to each for lunch. We keep the menu on the fridge and discuss all the lunch options if buying is on the table for the day. We will circle the days she is interested in buying and plan ahead for packing lunch on the other days. You may not be thrilled with the pretzel and cheese option instead of a salad. But know that there is a fruit and veggie that is also being offered, and may balance it out.
Encourage Your Child To Eat Outside Their Comfort Zone
If I gave Hattie the choice, cheese pizza would become it’s own food group. Her cafeteria offers salads on a regular basis, and she has come home and proclaimed she’s eaten salad for lunch. When reviewing the menu, always share all the choices offered and maybe encourage your child to try something new. I always ask Hattie to try something once and if she doesn’t like it, that’s okay but at least she tried it and knows that she prefers other options.
Ask What Their Friends are Eating
I’ve learned kids like to share more about what their friends are doing rather than themselves. I got into the habit about asking who Hattie is having lunch with and what her friends were also eating. She has come home interested in trying new things at school because one of her classmates tried it the week before, and that’s a win in my book!
Pack Your Lunch Together
If you’re packing your lunch during the week, you can work together to make smart choices starting at the grocery store. I always give Hattie the choice for all components of her meal. If it’s grapes or blueberries, tomatoes or cucumbers, she is making the decision on the healthy options. If you need additional kid-approved lunches, here are some that you may like.
So overall, to set everyone up for success, plan together, give choices, and give your child the freedom to make their own decisions when it comes to picking their lunches. In the long run, it will foster interest in expanding their menu options, encourage them to try new things, and cause fewer issues when it comes to their meals.
How do you encourage your children to make good choices for lunch?