School Lunch Made Simple

Back-to-school lunch tips for parents (Partner Content)

Joanna Parker was thrilled when the youngest of her three children was ready to start eating solid foods. Parker, who founded the kid-focused meal delivery kit Yumble, thought it meant mealtime was about to get much easier for her.

TURKEY BLT POCKET PITA This fun sandwich is self-contained in a pita pocket and features two textures: creamy and crispy. The turkey bacon has the same smoky flavor and meatiness of pork bacon, but is a wholesome option that’s more likely to fill your kid up.

Instead of having to prepare separate dishes for each of her children—Stanley, Eleanor, and baby Jane—she could finally make just one nutritious meal to feed them all.

“I felt like, ‘Okay, great, now I can prepare one nice meal, and they’re all going to eat it, and it’s going to be wonderful and lovely,’” she said.

KID-FRIENDLY CHARCUTERIE Get inspired by the bento box fad and create a customized, kid-friendly charcuterie board. All you have to do is select a variety of bite-sized meats, cheeses, fruits and crackers based on your children’s taste and nutritional needs.
But that wasn’t how things played out. Eleanor didn’t want the same things as Stanley, who tended to like something one day and then look at Parker like she was “from Mars” when she served it the next day. Sometimes, all three of them were in bad moods, which made them reject anything she put in front of them.

Across the country, parents face dilemmas similar to Parker’s as they struggle to balance their kids’ tastes with their nutritional needs. And the challenge seems particularly tough when it comes to lunch: A 2017 survey showed 85 percent of parents feel stressed while preparing school lunches. Elaine Magee, the Wellness Services corporate dietitian for Safeway, often talks to people who feel overwhelmed by the time commitment that can come with making meals and the prospect of their children not liking new foods. Magee, who raised two children of her own, sympathizes—but knows there are solutions.

Swap sugary treats for trail mix. To please a sweet tooth, give your kid trail mix as a lunchtime dessert. Try combining school-approved nuts with dried fruit and dark chocolate chips, for example.

Source: School Lunch