A new school year means making those darn lunches, day in and day out. By mid-September, the novelty has worn off and ideas cease to flow or kids start to bring home more than they ate. It’s time to let kids fend for themselves. Here’s why:

Last year we had that problem in our house. You’d think that kids of a nutritionist would eat well, and for the most part,yes they do, but when it came to lunch it was the opposite. Full lunchbox after lunchbox would come home along with crabby kids who couldn’t make it to dinner without a meltdown or two. I was losing my mind. So we decided to pass the responsibility to them. And it worked!

This year how about you do the same? A study showed that about 85% of kids who participate in preparing a meal, are more likely to eat what they’ve had a hand in making, than not. Sounds like success, right?

Give guidelines of what to include in a healthy lunchbox, and then set them free to be creative with their meal.

My daughter Logan came up with these suggestions to pass onto your kids learning to make food:

  • Use a small paring or steak knife to chop vegetables or fruit. It’s not too big or too small, but sharp enough to cut through a carrot.
  • Try peeling carrots for practice. I try to get long peelings from carrots, but make sure you do it away from you, not towards your fingers.
  • Gadgets like apple slicers and melon ballers make taking sliced or balled fruit much easier. And they are fun to use.
  • I have my own wooden spoon for stirring soup, use my favourite spatula for flipping my grilled cheese and a big spoon with holes for taking gnocchi out of the water once the float to the top.
  • When I have to use hot water or the stove, I make sure mom or dad are right there so I don’t hurt myself. I burned myself once, but it didn’t hurt
  • after we ran it under cold water for a few minutes.  
  • Here's Logan’s favourite lunch of the moment:

    Rice Paper Wraps
    Makes 3 - 4 wraps
    Note: best made fresh, so prepare veggies the night before and assemble in the morning. Send to school in an airtight container.

    3 - 4 dry rice paper wraps (found at supermarkets and health food stores)
    1/2 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
    1/2 yellow, red or green pepper, deseeded and cut into thin strips
    6 cm cucumber cut into thin strips
    6 strips of tofu, chicken, pork or cheese
    Handful of sunflower seed sprouts, optional
    1 section of vermicelli noodles, cooked*
    Fill a bowl or shallow plate with water. Dip dry rice paper wraps into the water for 10 seconds. Lift out and place on plastic chopping board or a plate.  

    Lay fillings along the centre of the rice wrap. Fold in one end, and wrap one side over the fillings lay flat. Continue by rolling rice wrap over until it forms a long roll. Leave unfolded end open or twist to keep fillings in. Serve with soy sauce.
     
    *cook noodles by placing in boiling water for 3 - 5 minutes. Drain and toss with olive oil and soy sauce (optional).

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