Every night before bed, Sue Patterson packs a lunch for her daughter, Emmy, 10, that resembles a work of art.
Picture a heart-shaped roast beef sandwich nestled into a Hello Kitty container with colorful cups of dried fruit, olives, organic cheese and yogurt-covered pretzels. Or a pink bento box with a California sushi roll, shelled edamame, red grapes and kiwis cut into cute fan shapes.
“It’s totally worth it so she can have a good, high-quality lunch every day,” Patterson says.
Not all healthy lunches have to be Pinterest-worthy. With a little planning and a fridge full of convenient kid-approved foods, parents can send their kids to school with a midday meal that’s as fun as it is nutritious.
If your kids are picky eaters, get them involved in making their lunches, says Lily Siebert, education and outreach assistant at the Merc Co-Op in Lawrence, Kansas.
Siebert teaches monthly cooking classes for young chefs. One of her go-to recipes is a whole-grain wrap filled with hummus, vegetables and sunflower seeds.
She asks each student to choose three vegetables to put in their wraps.
“They’re more open to trying new things when they have control,” she says.