When a 4-year old starts preschool, they often find themselves with an open lunch box and the awesome freedom to eat what’s in it — or not. Your child’s peers will often influence his eating behavior, so making the food appealing to your child as well as the kids around him is half the battle. At the end of the day, if you keep finding the lunch box half full, you might want to use a little bit of food psychology.
Keep it Simple
Four-year-olds often shy away from “mixtures” or combinations of several foods in a single container. They get this, “I don’t want my peas to touch my carrots” thing going on, so fill each plastic bag or container with one type of food, and make it colorful. A bag of orange slices, a bag of red apple slices and a bag of whole wheat crackers will do the trick. Add a cheese stick for protein and a pint of 2 percent milk for a well-rounded lunch.
Try Something New
Even parents get tired of the same old thing, day-in-and-day-out so try adding something new, colorful and nutritious at least once a week, to the items you know they already like. Crunchy cucumber slices, kiwi cubes, aged cheeses, small muffins, cherry tomatoes, snow peas and baby carrots all make wonderful lunch-box additions.
Sandwiches don’t have to be square and they don’t have to be on bread. Fill a pocket pita with potato or macaroni salad, or use a tortilla to wrap a cooked chicken strip. Fill a small container with cubes of bread — without the crust, cheese and lunch meat. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes from seven-grain bread. Then, spread peanut butter and add thin slices of strawberries.
Mix it Up
Add colors, variety, textures and taste to your child’s lunch box. After all, who doesn’t like a smorgasbord? Include foods with color such as red apples, orange oranges, and red or green grapes. Add something crunchy, something soft and something crisp. Mix up the flavors by using something mild such as American cheese, something citrus such as an orange, and something different such as kiwi, pineapple, mild pepper slices or sharp cheese. Add shapes by cutting foods into cubes, strips, triangles and circles.