As caring mothers, we spend a lot of time thinking about the healthy snacks we want our kids to have at school. We hope our children are both enjoying their meals and attaining a balanced diet at the same time. What makes things harder and more complicated is when we have fussy eaters. I know many moms, like me, who try to make different shapes and funny presentations just to make sure her children eat, but many of them do not. That is why I thought that I would share with you what I do with my youngsters, hoping that it will be of good help to you as well.
Get your children into the habit of having breakfast:
Breakfast is one of the main meals that must not be skipped!
“Breakfast provides the body and brain with fuel after an overnight fast – that’s where its name originates, breaking the fast! Without breakfast you are effectively running on empty, like trying to start the car with no petrol!” – See more at:
By doing so, you know that at least they have eaten something early in the morning, even if they come back with a full lunchbox.
Involve them in preparing their own lunchboxes:
Before going to bed, give your children the chance to choose their snacks from a diversity of items which you have already set. This makes them want to eat their snack as they feel that they were the one who selected them. At the same time, this will be a good chance to talk to them about the importance of food variety and the benefits it has on our bodies. It is never too early to teach your children how to build healthy habits and introducing them to the food pyramid can be a starting point!
Finally, have them try different types of nutritious food at home, make sure they enjoy eating it before sending such items to school.
Use silicone cupcakes:
Silicone cupcake bags serve as a barrier between different types of food. By doing so, you will be able to put different types of fruits or vegetables without taking a lot of space.
Use tiny coolers in the lunchbox:
If you live in countries where it is hot and humid, like here in Abu Dhabi, it is always better to insert a cooler in the lunchbox in order to preserve the child’s snack. You can find different sizes of coolers in supermarkets. Have them in the freezer the day before and it will be ready to use for school the following morning.
Leave tiny notes in the lunchbox:
Every now and then write on post-it cards tiny messages where you can encourage your children to eat the snack, share healthy information about the food you put or simply express your feelings towards them. My boys simply love to find a post-it in their lunchboxes and when they don’t have a note for some time they do ask for it. For my younger child, who still does not know how to read, I draw images for him. He learned how to decipher the message behind the drawings. And by the way, a nice note to Daddy as well makes his day.
Wet wipes and small tissue packs:
You can add small tissue and wet wipe packs in the lunch box as many children eat fast in order to have some time to play before going back to class. I bet they will not bother going to the toilet and have their hands washed. So just to make sure they do, have things under hand.
Usually our boys come back home at 2:00 PM. That’s why, I mainly send a snack with them and not a meal. Here is a list of the types of food I usually put for my children to school. We always work on trying new things and different combinations even if it is not always successful.
Fruits: (organic if possible)
Watermelon wedges, papaya cut in small cubes, pineapple chunks, whole apple, seedless grapes, sliced strawberries, blueberries, kiwi cut in circles, seedless clementine, and diced nectarines.
Vegetables: (organic if possible)
Sliced carrots, cucumbers, a few peeled fava beans, cherry tomatoes, baby corn, broccoli florets, peeled lupine grains, steamed snow peas, celery sticks, beetroots cut in circles, steamed asparagus, courgette sticks, sliced red, green, and yellow capsicum.
Raisins, apricots, and dates
Hommos spread with cucumber
Tuna with lettuce and cucumbers
Turkey and cheese
Labneh with thyme or olives
Homemade jam and butter
Every now and then, whenever there is time, I cut their sandwiches into different shapes using cookie cutters. They simply love it.
Crepes with Philadelphia cheese with honey
The Lebanese Manakeesh (thyme, Keshk)
Yellow cheese (Emmental cut into cubes, Edam sliced) with Organic Rice Cakes
Cheddar cheese strings
Rachel Ray Organic Greek Honey/Regular Yogurt
Homemade muffins and cakes or cupcakes:
These can be either salty or sweet.
Egg muffins are a great snack for school and there are plenty of recipes online
Chocolate (if schools allow it) or milk muffins
Slices of olive cake
Regular sponge cakes
A healthy salad adds variety to a child’s lunchbox.
Pasta salad: any type of small sized pasta with cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper
Quinoa salad: Quinoa is the most popular “super food” that is rich in protein, fibre, iron, magnesium and other essential nutrients.
Check the link below for delicious quinoa salad ideas:
Pasta mixed with Geek yogurt and dried mint
Cooked chick peas or small white beans with lemon dressing, olive oil, cumin, and salt
Whether it is hot or cold, I got the boys used to drinking water and enjoying it. They do know now of its importance to their bodies and how it keeps them hydrated.
What I Avoid:
1. I avoid processed soft cheeses as much as I can as they contain huge amounts of preservatives. In fact, all items that remain intact when kept outside the fridge, especially those that are supposedly made up of milk, are extremely dangerous to your health. I also avoid chips, crackers, and salty sticks as they contain lots of salt and hydrogenated fats. That is why, you will see me reading the labels in the supermarket before purchasing any product.
2. A few years back, I attended a workshop that was held by a dietician. To my shock, she informed us that most cereals, if not all, are not as healthy as we think. In fact, they are toasted at very high temperatures which result in hazardous effects on a human’s body. I know it is very difficult not to have our children eat from those tempting cereal boxes, especially those with free gifts, but I try my best to reduce the amount as much as I can. At the same time, I explain to them the facts that I know of.
3. Despite the healthy benefits of raw nuts, I do not send them to school simply because it could be harmful to children (allergy, choking …)
4. Juices and soft drinks are definitely not included in our lunchbox list. The only time I send juice is when there is a celebration in class, and I make sure I buy organic ones.
Finally, I hope that these few tips will be of great help to all of you and good luck to all caring mothers out there. I will be posting some of my favourite lunchbox ideas on Facebook and Instagram… stay tuned.
P.S: It is important to make your children aware of the fact that not all children can have the same types of food due to food allergy. Thus, it is better that they do not share with others or take from others’ lunchboxes.
P.P.S: Pictures are taken from Pinterest and from home.