Back to school tips: How to get kids to eat that lunch and snack you packed

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Does your child actually eat what you put together?

Experts say spice things up to avoid boredom.

Healthy Living Expert and author Margaret Marshall knows more than a thing or two when it comes to packing food for kids to eat at school.

She says, “I think the first thing you have to do is talk to your child regardless of their age and find out what food they like and what food they will eat during the school day.”

A shorter lunch time period — leaves not a lot of time to eat. Encourage a balance of protein and carbs.

“Carbohydrates give you the brain power, it starts you going but then the protein keeps you going.”

Think — Chicken salad, fruit and something crunchy — not chips.

“Chicken salad, tuna salad, this can be a snack or a meal,” says Margaret, “these are little dried pretzels, a fruit, this has the protein, fat and carbohydrate included.”

Try this pasta dish.

“I just put some bow tie pastas in there, grilled chicken for your protein and I sliced up cherry tomatoes and put them in there but ask your child what vegetable they want and let them have what they like.”

To tie them over before lunch or after school.

“This is a great snack. You give them a couple of slices of cheese, a couple slices of their favorite cracker, ask them what cracker they want to have. It doesn’t really matter and try to get a fruit in there as well.”

Do include sweet treats once in awhile.

“You can’t take away everything from your child because if you don’t send them in with a few of these — they’re going to get them from their classmates.”

Discourage the vending machines.

“Avoid the chocolate because that will give them energy real quick but then it will drop them and they will not have the focus to learn what they need to learn in the afternoon.”

That, along with the sodas, regular and diet.

The bottom line is to negotiate with your student.

Margaret advises, “Ask your child are they eating the food that you are packing for them? Are they eating the food they are buying in the cafeteria? If the answer is no, find out why and ask them what they will eat.”

That by working with your student and advising them, will help lead them to making healthier choices– food that they will eat.

For more from Margaret — log onto

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