Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Loblaws and is part of the #FoodLoversUnite campaign. While I have received compensation for it, the opinions and satisfaction of seeing a great kid-packed Bento Box are my own.
Do you know what the easiest way to get your kids to make better food choices and pack their lunches is? Have someone else tell them how. Really.
Want to make your own life even easier? Book a quick shop the store appointment with your local Loblaws in-store registered dietitian and sit back and watch as your kids learn about serving sizes, reading nutrition labels and making simple, delicious recipes. In 30 minutes, our Loblaws in-store dietitian walked my kids through the aisles, gave them tips and tricks to pack their lunches, shared recipes for quick snacks/meals and taught them how to read nutrition labels.
Raising Food Lovers
There has been a shift in parenting recently, an awareness that our well-intentioned coddling of our children isn’t actually good for them. The thing I loved most about this appointment with a Loblaws in-store dietitian was that it enabled my girls. They learnt how to make better choices, what to look for when grocery shopping, and how to make simple recipes that are school or after school snack friendly.
It Starts at the Store: Getting Kids Involved
We always hear that kids are more likely to eat what they make. That is absolutely true. However, kids are also more likely to eat what they buy. Having Lauren Baker, the in-store registered dietitian, walk them around the aisles identifying different fruit/veggies and how they can use them opened the kids up to trying new things. Without any imploring on my part.
The girls learnt about how to use produce for snacks they can make themselves, some super simple dip recipes, how to buy breads and crackers, and how to read nutrition labels. I have said before that one of the most helpful things I learnt when I initially met Lauren was how to look beyond the calorie count and assess how ‘good’ a food is. It was wonderful to see her impart the same knowledge to my girls in a way that they understood.
I will be entirely honest with you and say that while we were there my 5-year-old seemed mostly preoccupied with fixing her hair and cracking jokes about picking out the unhealthiest foods. The in-store dietitian we worked with was so very gracious about it and took it in her stride. As the mother of said errant child, I was mildly mortified.
The next day on the way back to school, she asked if she could make a snack for us. I bemusedly agreed expecting just about the worst. Instead she pulled out fruit, washed it, put it in a bowl. Then she took a variety of whole-grain crackers mixed them in a bowl and put them out. Two seconds later I hear her mutter “protein…protein… protein…”
Folks, I almost cried happy tears.
Bento Box Bosses
When it came time for them to put their knowledge into action, I was quite curious to see what they would do. On autopilot, I got into lunch box mode and started pulling things out of the fridge.
That is as far as I got before the girls shooed me away.
Both my girls were both quite adamant that they pack their own Bento Boxes without any assistance. They used many of the Loblaws in-store dietitians’ tips along the way. Pre-washed salads, mini cucumbers, a new variety of grapes, and kid-made sunflower seed butter energy balls made their way into their boxes. I loved seeing their easy confidence in action. I also learnt that when they take over lunch packing there will be a fair amount of goofing and snacking involved. As a mother, if my kids want to ‘steal’ extra cucumbers I am not going to be too bummed about it 😉
In My Food Lovers’ Bento Boxes
One of the things I have thought a lot about since my older daughter whipped up this Spinach and Chickpea Curry is that it is ok for us to like different things. My two girls are so different in their tastes when it comes to everything, including food. Their Bento Boxes show that.
In my older ones (right) you will see a salad with chicken, mini cucumbers and her favourite Tomberries which are a locally grown variety of mini tomatoes. She also packed whole-grain crackers with Boursin, a nut-free Energy Bite, and the sweetest Ontario grown strawberries which she picked out in collaboration with her sister. What does that mean? It means that they both know to look for clearly marked local produce at Loblaws and that they let their noses tell them which strawberries are the best.
Tip: If you can’t smell them, then they aren’t good. In our experience locally grown strawberries (including the greenhouse-grown ones) are far better than those that come from miles away.
My little one opted out of the salad and suggested Quesadillas saying that Lauren the in-store registered dietitian said bean and cheese quesadillas are a good lunch (See Lauren, she was listening!). Along with her Quesadillas, she has mini cucumbers, muscat grapes, and some strawberries.
Those are some well-balanced Bento Boxes if I do say so myself.