Eating well throughout the day keeps your kids mentally alert and energetic enough to handle all of their schoolwork, homework and extracurricular activities. But you don't want to spend hours in the kitchen preparing something that they will refuse to eat or handing over money that gets spent on fast food instead of something nutritious. Planning ahead and making meals for your high school student at home can ensure that they get proper nutrition throughout the day, but make sure you ask for their input first.
Moving Beyond Sandwiches
Some high school kids still love the sandwiches of their childhood, but others need a more sophisticated version as they reach adolescence. Try filling a pita with tuna salad or shredded chicken, lettuce and a creamy dressing or homemade yogurt sauce. Tortillas allow you a wide variety of options for burritos and wraps, and they come in different colors and flavors, including tomato and spinach, that make your teen's lunch really stand out. If you want to go with the traditional two pieces of bread and some fillings, offer options such as artisian whole grain bread with almond butter and fruit slices, a turkey and cranberry sauce filling between two slices of whole grain rye, or last night's roasted veggies with ranch-seasoned cream cheese on a twelve-grain bread.
Take a tip from the Orient and create Japanese-style Bento boxes with compartments filled with a mix of rice balls, raw or pickled veggies, chopped fruit, smoked salmon, meatballs or noodles. Make a spicy, Asian-inspired dipping sauce for the veggies by mixing a bit of wasabi with ranch dressing. Other exotic lunch ideas you can swipe from other countries include Chinese pork-filled steamed buns, a Greek shrimp salad or an Indian tandoori chicken wrap. You don't have to focus just on the main dish, either. Side dishes like a cup of miso soup, a small bowl of kimchi or some dumplings can add an exotic, fun touch to any lunch.
Teens are busy trying to figure out where they fit into the world, which can sometimes reflect on their food choices. If your child chooses to go vegetarian for a few months or gets turned onto a raw food craze, don't fight it. If you pack something that your teen decides is against his new-found personal philosophy, it won't get eaten. Instead, ask your high school student what his favorite vegetarian lunches are or whether sushi counts as a raw food.
Letting your teen help prepare her own lunch not only helps save you time, it also ensures that she'll be packing foods she'll actually enjoy eating. If your teen seems reluctant to take over the entire process, ask her for specific opinions on what to include. For example, if you plan on making a salad to include in her lunch, ask if she'd rather have chicken or beef on top or if she'd rather have creamy chipotle or balsamic dressing. Enlist her help in chopping the meat and packing the dressing while you make up the rest of the salad.