Are lunch boxes causing teenage angst in your household? My boys often complain that everybody else’s lunch boxes are so much better than theirs!
Now I know that I’m all about fresh and nutritious wholefoods, but surely I can’t be the only Mum who isn’t including potato chips, lollies and biscuits in lunches?
When it comes to lunch boxes I want my kids to feel as if they have the same treats as everyone else, so I’m on a mission to find ‘look-a-like treats’!
Or in other words, healthy food disguised as a treat!
Including look-a-like treats was much easier when my kids were under 10 years old, as they were less savvy about what was going into their food. But, now it’s come to their teens I have to be a bit smarter!
Recently I cooked Glazed Chilli and Beetroot Brownies but, I made the mistake of excitedly telling the boys exactly what was in them! They then approached them with extreme caution and expected them to taste terrible. Had I been a bit more savvy and a bit less transparent I think their whole attitude would have been more positive.
- Tip Number 1 don’t reveal the secret ingredient!
Frame The Argument
Both of my teens are into their sport in a big way and this provides a perfect opportunity to talk about the impact food has on performance. They are keen to eat food that is linked to high performance, and this just happens to be the sort of nutritious food that I want to feed them!
They are not interested in why I think fibre is good for their digestive system, but they sit up and listen when I tell them that whole grain carbohydrates build up stores of energy that help optimum performance in soccer! It’s all about framing the argument to suit their needs!
- Tip Number 2 focus on how healthy foods will work to benefit their interests.
If I want my teens to eat the contents of their lunch box then variety is the spice of life! In primary school eating times are usually supervised, but in high school independence and self regulation are the order of the day, which means that unappealing lunches are often dumped, sold or swapped! This makes negotiation the key to avoiding wasted lunches; teens need to have some say over lunch box decisions!
For our family this comes down to a frank discussion about what they want to see in their lunch boxes, what I want to include and what the deal-breakers are! Compromises have included a canteen day (where they can buy what they like), Friday chips and chocolate day or daily ‘treat impersonators’.
- Tip Number 3 negotiate the deal breakers and be prepared to compromise!
Sometimes the boys and I have very different objectives when it comes to lunches! They’re impressed with quantity, and I’m all about quality! But it is important to remember that for teenagers size matters! So the more high quality snacks that I can pack into their lunches the better.
- Tip Number 4 never under-estimate the importance of quantity!
Next week I’ll be sharing a round-up of the best lunch box recipes out on the web, and giving you our verdict on them! In the meantime, if you want to pick up some great lunchbox tips take at look at Nicole Avery’s Planning With Kids. She has five kids and offers loads of practical advice about making family life simpler by doing a bit of advance planning.
I’d love to hear any of your success stories or tips to negotiate those deal breakers for your kids lunch boxes.
Have you got any lunchbox wisdom to share?