Build a better lunch


(Matt McClain/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)
September 6, 2011

Here are ChopChop founder Sally Sampson’s tips for helping your child eat well, and ideas to get you through at least a week’s worth of making lunches. (Note: These are good for kids of all ages.)

General tips

· Set a good example.

· Assume your child wants to be part of the process.

· Eat as many meals as possible with your children.

· Don’t allow your child to eat in front of the TV.

· Even if your child says “No, thank you,” to a food, offer it over and over, creating familiarity.

· Buy fruit in season.

· Remember lunch when you are cooking dinner; make enough for leftovers.

· When packing lunch, use frozen water bottles or thermoses to hold foods that can’t sit at room temperature.

· Pay attention to texture and be careful not to squash things; don’t put firm items such as apples on top of soft foods.

· Keep an arsenal of colorful spoons, forks and napkins on hand, plus reusable juice boxes and containers of all sizes and little paper pads (for leaving notes).

Add-ons to almost any sandwich

· Carrot ribbons (cut with a potato peeler)

· Cucumbers, thinly sliced

· Radishes, thinly sliced

· Apples or pears, thinly sliced

· Fresh basil leaves

· Tomatoes

· Any greens

· Alfalfa or radish sprouts

· Avocados

· Sliced pickles

Add-ons to almost any green salad

· Dried fruit, especially raisins, cranberries and currants

· Lightly toasted nuts (whole or chopped), seeds

· Fresh fruit, especially apples, grapefruit, peaches, apricots, oranges, pineapple, pomegranate seeds

· Cheeses; try new ones routinely

· Leftover poultry, beef, pork, fish

· Tofu cubes

· Carrot ribbons

· Leftover cooked potatoes, cubed

· Bell peppers

Mix-ins for plain yogurtor cottage cheese

FRUIT MIX-INS

· Grapefruit, dried cranberries and pistachios

· Fresh apricots, dried apricots and a pinch of cinnamon

· Fresh or frozen berries

· Dried dates and lightly toasted walnuts

· Grated apple and wheat germ

VEGETABLE MIX-INS

· Thinly sliced cucumbers, grated or sliced radishes and mint leaves

· Shaved or grated carrots and grated apples

· Shredded purple cabbage, carrots, zucchini and fresh herbs such as basil or dill

GRAIN MIX-INS

· Non- or low-sugar cereals, such as Grape-Nuts and Kashi

· Wheat berries

Add-ons for leftover rice, pasta, barley or quinoa

· Fresh tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese and dill

· Chickpeas, chopped roasted bell peppers and curry powder

· Cubed tofu with basil and tomatoes

· Avocado cubes, crumbled feta cheese and slivered red cabbage

· Fresh or frozen peas and grape tomatoes

· Sliced mushrooms, grated

Parmesan cheese and basil leaves

· Chopped broccoli, diced bell peppers and dry-roasted peanuts

Condiments to have on hand
in the fridge

· Hummus

· Greek yogurt (use it as a spread)

· Mustard

· Nut and/or seed butters

· Chutney

· Good jam

· Apple butter

· Dips

Snacks

· Skewers; dried fruit, cheeses, olives, meats, vegetables (above)

· Nuts, popcorn, edamame, dried fruit (at right), cheese sticks or cubes, roasted nuts, pretzels, baby-cut carrots, apples, fresh melon cubes, soy nuts instead of chips

· Stuffed celery with: hummus, nut butter, Greek-style yogurt or herb cheese topped with raisins, chopped nuts, sunflower seeds

· Cucumber slices used as bread and made into tiny “sandwiches”

Sandwich ideas

Great breads are easy to find. Vary your breads and use whole grains, pita pockets and wraps, rice and corn cakes. You can also roll up meats instead of putting them on bread.

· Turkey or chicken and apple butter

· Turkey, hummus and avocado

· Ham and cheddar cheese with mango chutney or apple butter

· Smoked ham with hummus

· Turkey, hummus, pesto and avocado

· Sliced egg and sprouts

· Sliced egg, avocado and cheddar cheese

· Avocado and Gruyere cheese

· Greek-style yogurt, sliced cucumbers and mint leaves

· Cheddar cheese, spinach and apple butter

· Almond butter and blackberry, fig or apricot jam or apple butter

· Almond butter and raspberries

· Roasted vegetables and hummus

· Tomato, cucumber and guacamole

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