We remember three things from grade school: naptime, recess, and lunch! Obviously, we retained a bit more than that thanks to our wonderfully patient and attentive teachers (Mrs. Botsford, you were the best!), but we still recall trading our tired goldfish crackers for that sweet mini box of raisins like it was yesterday.

The truth is, kids like to keep things interesting, so a PB&J every day is just not going to cut it. There are fast and easy ways to offer variety in your child’s lunchbox while still offering a balanced meal, and it only takes a few minutes!

Taking inspiration from mslil65’s photo diary of her son’s kindergarten and first grade lunches on Flickr, here are our five steps to a simply delicious kiddie lunch:

Step 1: You’ve probably noticed that kids tend to pick at their food — a little of this, a little of that, and very little commitment, so making a properly sized lunch spread with lots of little options is perfect! We absolutely love Bento lunch boxes by Laptop Lunches because of their mix-and-match style of containers and brilliant colors.

Step 2: Providing a properly balanced meal is super important, so always be sure to include some fruit, veggies, dairy, meat, and bread in every meal. Remember, items like grapes and cherry tomatoes can become fast favorites because they are sweet and bite-size, and pepperoni slices, cheese cubes, and whole wheat crackers are fun to stack together in a mini-sandwich! Sending a whole baggie of one item can result in waste if the child loses interest before they reach the bottom, so be sure to limit the amount of each food and give them lots of choices!

Step 3: Don’t be afraid to add some sweet treats into the mix, too. Mslil65 made sure to tuck some chocolate covered raisins, strawberry Pocky, or a few nuggets of his favorite sugary cereal into her son’s lunch as a surprise when he reached the bottom of the container, and he got a new surprise every day thanks to her affinity for variety.

Step 4: Don’t forget the extras like a fork or spoon, a napkin (because kids will be kids!), and of course a note from mom. We lovingly recall those little drawings our dad would adorn our brown bag lunches with for field trips, and Mslil65’s use of colorful superhero stickers will surely make a wonderful memory for her son. We especially love that Star Wars sticker reminding her son to “Use the fork!” Precious.

Step 5: The first few lunches will definitely be hit or miss, but by inspecting the empty container at the end of the day, you’ll quickly learn what your little one is excited to eat, what he or she is willing to at least try, and what foods they’re not that into. No doubt they’ll also tell you what was “really yucky” or “so gross,” so soon you’ll be sending them to school with lunches they’ll want to guard with their lives. Before long, the cafeteria will look more like a dinner table and less like the trading floor at Wall Street.

Check out all of mslil65’s brilliant lunch creations on her Flickr account!

 

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