We’re really excited to be partnering with The Root Cause to provide our parent community with great tips and tricks for how to stay organised, pack nutritious school lunches, and encourage your children to eat healthily. The following article has been written by the team at The Root Cause.
School’s gone back for the year which means we’ve got around 200 school lunchboxes to pack per child. Parents often tell The Root Cause that their biggest concerns around packing lunchboxes are:
Can you relate to any of these?
If so, then here’s the great news: If you train your kids to happily eat cold dinner leftovers, you can solve these problems.
If you’re thinking, “My kids would never eat cold leftovers” then you’re not alone.
Bel from The Root Cause has two kids, and they haven’t always eaten cold leftovers. It was a progress and all up, took about four months.
This investment in time has been worth it. Bel’s job in packing their lunchboxes is much easier and her family has so much more variety too. Plus because it’s a meal they usually enjoyed the night before, they love eating it again the next day, so no lunches are coming home uneaten.
Here’s how Bel went about transitioning the whole family to eating cold leftovers.
Bel uses a technique introduced to her when she was studying to be a Health and Wellness Coach. It’s called “Adding in and crowding out”.
The idea is this:
Let’s take a look at how Bel used the same process to get her family to eat cold baked dinners.
Bel’s focus was getting more protein in their lunchbox because protein is important for growth, development, and it helps keep them fuller for longer.
Examples were roast lamb, roast chicken, sausages, meatballs, etc.
Serve what they’re used to having for afternoon tea. For Bel and her family, this was rice cakes with peanut butter or cheese and some carrot and celery sticks.
If your children are used to having chips or cookies, start with that. If you can, serve it on a plate so it’s all laid out in front of them.
Around day three, add something new to the finger food on offer.
Bel started to add in some ham to get them used to the idea of cold meat as finger food.
If your children have chips or cookies, add in some whole foods like carrots, edamame, or even fruit that you know they will like.
If it doesn’t get eaten, don’t make a fuss about it, just keep putting it out. Be prepared to have it for lunch the next day yourself. Research shows that exposing children to food without stressing/ obsessing about it being eaten is important to expanding a child’s palette.
Be patient and consistent with putting out the new foods. Your kids are not light switches. And accepting change takes time.
After another few days, add in something new again.
Bel started to add in some cold chicken (e.g. drumstick) to the finger food. At the same time, she slightly reduced the portion of the other foods.
It was enough of a reduction so the amount of food on offer was not a lot more, but not enough that they noticed their normal food choices disappearing.
Bel’s focus was cold left-over meats, so she started adding in whatever left-over meat she had from evening meals. Over time, this just becomes the norm as finger food.
It’s all about consistency and being persistent without stressing and obsessing over the food.
Once it’s accepted as an afternoon tea finger food, pop a little bit in the lunchbox.
Follow the same “add in and crowd out” philosophy for whatever foods you’d like to introduce.
It does take time but as the saying goes, “You’ve got to spend a little time to make time”. It is a far more efficient use of your time to make extra whilst you are already cooking dinner and pop it in the lunchbox the next day.