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Stick It To Your Kids This Fall

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If you're looking for a creative, cost effective and healthy approach to school lunches then stock up on wooden skewers and chopsticks.

Stick It To Your Kids This Fall

Susannah Locketti:  Lunches involving sticks pique kids' interest, slow down their eating and make noshing on fruit and veggies so much more fun! Lunch kabobs are a clever way to sneak in veggies, fruits, dairy and protein. They are also a cost effective way to use up leftovers. Not to mention you can pick up 100 wooden skewers for about a buck at most retail stores. Chopsticks help your kids eat more slowly because it is a challenge getting used to them.

Here are a few tips when making your kabobs or using chopsticks.

Trim the pointy tip off the skewer and cut the skewers in half using clean clippers. To make threading easier, have a small knife handy to make little slits in fruits, veggies and cheese so they slide on the skewers easier. You can also leave the pointy tips on and do the trimming after the fact if you prefer. Just don't forget to cut them off! You'll hear about it from the lunch lady!

Three skewers fit great in rectangular reusable plastic containers. Then use a smaller container to hold a small amount of salad dressing, hummus or marinara for dipping. Line the container with salad greens or shredded veggies to try and sneak in even more nutrition.

Vary your meat and cheese selections to keep interest up. I like to hit the deli and instead of ordering sliced meat, I'll order one 1" thick slices of a cheese or meat. Then I cube it up all week. Select meats and cheeses on sale and see if you can get the deli manager to give you a sneak peak of what's on sale the following week to help you advance plan. If sliced meats are easier for your family, simple fold them up a few times and thread on the skewer.

Swap up the fruits and veggies all week to maximize nutrition or ask your kids to be part of the healthy selection process. Keep grape tomatoes, peppers, squash and other veggies on hand so they have something new and different each day. Strawberries, grapes, pineapple and apples with a touch of lemon juice are perfect for fruit combinations. A small container of vanilla yogurt is perfect to serve with a fruit and cheese kabob. Simply freeze the yogurt so it is cold and thawed by lunchtime.

Use leftovers from dinner to make kabobs. Leftover sausage, meatballs, roasted chicken or pork will work just fine on a kabob and will help you make the most of everything in the fridge. Even leftover pita pockets can be cut into wedges and thread on a skewer.

To make chopsticks kid friendly, separate the chopsticks, roll up the paper used to seal them and place in between the chopsticks. Then use an elastic to wrap around the top of the chopsticks to secure the paper in place and attach the two chopsticks. I learned this from my local sushi restaurant. Ask any server and they'll show you exactly how to do it! Chopsticks can be purchased inexpensively at any party supply store.

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