Featuring California Home Goods Bento Lunch Box
If you’re a parent, you should already know by now that one should never take a picky eater lightly (if you do value their health, that is). You should never underestimate how fully committed they are when they say “I just want to eat chips” or fried chicken, or hotdog, or pizza--because they mean it. They could eat only that Every. Single. Day. Thus, serving them just any kind of lunch meal for school or the day care can be disastrous, not to mention stressful.
But if you’re truly determined to make them eat more balanced meals on a daily basis, then you’ve got to do whatever it takes to expand their current meal preferences. In simple terms, instead of forcing them to love carrot and celery sticks all of a sudden, what you need to do is use their current favorite food to your advantage: expand the menu according to what they’re already eating.
To understand what we truly mean, here are 3 lunch box examples:
For the pizza lover
Hiding veggies under their favorite pizza toppings could make or break your strategy especially if you have such clever picky eaters. The moment their discerning palate recognizes you hid a bell pepper underneath that pepperoni, they could just spit it out and not eat the whole lunch box. So make this instead:
Whole wheat bagels, tortillas, or pitas (whichever you think your child prefers)
Cheddar, Jack, Mozzarella Cheese, lots of it
Pureed cooked carrots
Bell Peppers, finely chopped
Onions, grated or pureed
Spinach, finely chopped using your food processor
Ham, rolled-up and secured using kid-friendly toothpicks
Dip of their choice
Fruit of their choice
The trick here is to incorporate the veggies into the pizza sauce instead of hiding it somewhere in the pizza. So in before assembling, cook your marinara again. In small saucepan under low heat, add your tomato/marinara sauce, onions, carrots, and bell peppers. Stir and cook until you see no trace of any veggie. Now make your “cheese pizza” and cook it in the oven.
Assemble the healthy pizza lunch set in a bento box or lunch box with dividers. Put the pizza in the biggest compartment, then the ham roll-ups, the fruit slices, and their choice dip.
For the die-hard mac & cheese fan:
Just like what we did with the pizza sauce, all you have to do here is incorporate the veggies into your cheese sauce. Now don’t panic, with your cheeses’ yellow-orange color, the picky eaters won’t notice a thing!
Choice of pasta (Conchiglie or Shell, Farfalle or Bow, Fusilli or Twisty pasta)
1/2 cup carrots, minced
1/4 cup shallot or onion, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup light butter with canola oil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons low-fat milk
1/3 pound fontina cheese, shredded (1-1/2 cups)
1/2 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumb
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 2-quart square baking dish with nonstick coating; set aside. Cook fusilli as directed on package. Drain and return to pot; keep warm.While macaroni cooks, cook carrots and shallot in olive oil in a medium saucepan. Cook on high for 5 to 6 minutes. Then lower the heat to medium and make the cheese sauce in the same pan. Melt light butter in saucepan. Add flour and salt; stir for 1 minute. Add milk; stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat; stir in cheese until melted. Toss together macaroni and sauce. Transfer to prepared dish. Sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 minutes or until heated through.
Assemble your kid’s bento lunch box: After putting the macaroni and cheese, put your portion for protein (canadian bacon or turkey ham is a good choice). Then allot another portion for fruit. Then another for a “bonus” compartment like for pretzels or a trail mix.
For the chicken nugget aficionado:
You may have heard of incorporating veggies inside chicken nuggets then frying them to make them crunchy and appealing--hence, veggie nuggets. But you also know how it’s so hard to keep those nuggets still crunchy after placing them inside the lunch box, right? Thus, why not make those legit chicken nuggets into something healthier instead of focusing on the crunchy alone? That’s where Crispy Chicken Taco comes in!
Finely chopped tomatoes
Finely chopped white onions
Finely chopped spinach
Taco Seasoning (only if you think your child likes Mexican dishes)
Your kids’ choice of chicken nuggets
Sharp Cheddar and Monterey Jack Cheese
Blend all veggies together in a food processor until consistency is thick. Brush tortillas with olive oil or butter. Assemble tacos (salsa-chicken-cheese) and put it in the oven to bake for about 20 minutes. Top with sour cream and place it in your bento lunch box. Fill the other compartments with side dishes like buttered corn, chocolate covered strawberries, and mixed nuts for a more fun and filling school lunch.