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  • A Guide To Healthy Lunches For Kids That They Would Actually Want To Eat

    A step-by-step guide on how to whip up healthy meals that won’t go untouched on their plate.
    by R.M. Mauhay .
A Guide To Healthy Lunches For Kids That They Would Actually Want To Eat
PHOTO BY Courtesy of Josanne Burgos and Regine Paz Malong
  • With kids in the home 24/7, parents have probably exhausted meal ideas. As if making healthy lunches for kids is not challenging enough, you still have to pass the hurdle of making your kids eat what you have prepared.

    How to make healthy lunches for kids

    It can be especially tough getting picky eaters to eat, and you might constantly be looking for ways to improve their appetite. Worry no more — here’s a step-by-step guide on how to whip up healthy meals that won’t go untouched on their plate.

    Step one: Know what your child should be eating

    We all know the basics of ‘go, grow, and glow’ foods. But putting together a balanced meal doesn’t just mean throwing in one of each. In a previous article on simplified baon guide for growing kids, we mentioned “The Five” from Harvard Health

    Put simply, these five things are the key to a healthy and balanced meal that you would want your developing child to have. Let’s consider each one of these as the “elements” to a healthy kiddie lunch!

    Grains

    There’s an array of choices for you here. Basically, anything that comes from cereal grains, wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, or barley, are considered a grain product. You can use either oats, bread, cooked rice, pasta, or cereal for your first element.

    Whole grains are especially high in iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, B vitamins and dietary fiber. This will take care of their ‘go’ needs.

    Fruit

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    When introducing healthy food to a very picky eater, it’s okay to take it slow. You can pick one fruit at a time to include in their meals. Just make sure they don’t have to do anything else to it other than pop it in their mouth when served.

    Peel them. Slice them. Make them bite-sized. That’s half of their ‘glow’ needs.

    Vegetables

    This is the other half of their 'glow' needs. You can encourage your child to eat more servings of fruits and vegetables by mixing lettuce and tomatoes to sandwiches, or making potato salad as a side dish.

    Meat

    This provides the 'grow' needs of your child. Meat are rich in protein, which is a big help in developing their muscles.

    Dairy

    Dairy products help complete a well-balanced meal that we want our children to have. Milk is typically given to fulfill this element, but you can also mix in cheese, butter, and yogurt!

    Step two: Plan your child's meals and let them participate 

    Now you know what your kids need to eat. But your child doesn’t.

    You will have to explain to them why it's important to eat all five elements of their healthy lunch plate. But you’ll have to do this in a language that they will understand.

    Be creative and make it fun! For example, if your kids love Frozen, pretend you received a letter from Anna saying that she is on a mission to save Elsa, and she needs your child's help. But, your little one won't be able to help Anna unless everything on her plate is consumed because each one gives 'magic powers.' 

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    Realistically, you can also create a list of what you can do with the ingredients inside your fridge and pantry and let your kid choose what they want to eat. Then, let them join in on making their own healthy lunch! You’ll be surprised how eager they will be to eat something they helped prepare.

    Step three: Prepare easy and healthy lunches for kids

    While reading all about “The Five,” you may have already planned recipes in your head. In case you need more, here are some lunch inspos from Mommy Josanne Burgos from a previous Smart Parenting article.

    Halabos na Hipon with Sipo Egg

    Make sure you use fresh vegetables for the Sipo egg. It's a quick and easy recipe — just sauté garlic, onions, carrots, corn, and baguio beans. Add egg yolk for texture.
    PHOTO BY Josanne Burgos

    Lechon Kawali with Nilaga Soup

    To make lechon kawali healthier, mommy Josanne fries it in cooking oil. To make it more savory, marinate the pork for a long time using soy sauce, salt, and pepper.
    PHOTO BY Josanne Burgos
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    Pipino and Arroz Caldo with Egg

    To make it a balanced meal, add a side dish of cucumber to the arroz caldo.
     PHOTO BY Josanne Burgos

    Gyudon and Korean Potato Salad

     

    You can substitute mirin and dashi stock by frying the beef with white onions and pre-made soba sauce. In a few minutes, you’ll have gyudon!
    PHOTO BY Josanne Burgos
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    If you have the time, you can also try making cute bento boxes to entice your kids and make them excited for lunch time. With the right tools and a bit of imagination, you can recreate some of these lunches from mom Regine Paz Malong.

    Anna’s Gulay na Bitsuelas

     

    Anna’s Gulay na Bitsuelas (inspired by Frozen!)
    PHOTO BY Regine Paz Malong

     

    Snow White’s Parmesan and Panko Baked Chicken

     

    To make it more interesting, spell out your child's name with carrots!
    PHOTO BY Regine Paz Malong
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    Alice’s Pork Kaldereta

     

    Mommy separated the sauce and meat from this plate.
    PHOTO BY Regine Paz Malong

     

    Step four: Feedback time!

    Every child is unique, so you will have to modify some dishes until you find the perfect formula for the ultimate healthy lunch for your kids. That’s why it’s important to know their opinion on what they were served. There might be compromises along the way but, hey, a small step forward is still a step forward.

    Click here for more meal ideas.

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