One thing we have noticed when chatting to parents about the start of the new school year is that even though everyone is so ready for the kids to go back to school, there is almost always a mention of the chore of making school lunches.
The 2 biggest issues are keeping it interesting and keeping it healthy. Since 1/3 of our kids’ meals come from their school lunchbox, making healthy choices really is important. It not only makes them feel better, but they also perform better if they don’t have to deal with the slumps that come with sugary, processed foods.
So, to take away some of that lunchbox dread read on for;
- Lunch box do’s and don’ts
- A lunchbox meal plan for a week
- Resources for healthy lunch ideas
Lunchbox Do’s and Don’ts
There is an endless supply of packaged, convenient snack foods in our supermarkets, but most are processed and packed with sugar. Stay away from supermarket muesli bars, fruit twists and chips. These can be a treat once a week but should not be a daily item in the lunchbox. Some healthier alternatives are popcorn, Ari Bars and Petit Miam now have a ‘No Added Sugar’ version of their yoghurt.
Add variety to their lunches so they are getting lots of different nutrients. The more colours that come from the natural foods you give them, the more nutrients they are getting.
Add a smoothie. You can make this the night before and freeze it so that it’s nice and cold in their lunchbox. This is also a great way to sneak in those super healthy greens. Add a handful of spinach – they will never know!
Lunch Box Meal Plan
Lunch: Wholegrain wrap with falafel, Hummus/spinach & cucumber
Snack: Zucchini fritters
Fruit: Mango cubes
Lunch: Wholemeal pasta salad with tuna, tomatoes/olives
Snack: Boiled egg & Popcorn
Fruit: Apple & Grapes
Lunch: Wholemeal roll with roast chicken, avocado/coleslaw
Snack: Homemade muesli bar
Fruit: Kiwifruit & Blueberries
Lunch: Mini quiche or frittata (so many filling options)
Snack: Carrot/cucumber sticks OR pita bread with beetroot hummus
Fruit: Fruit salad
Lunch: Mini meatballs with broccoli & cherry tomatoes
Snack: Buckwheat pikelets
These recipes are very quick and easy to make and can be made in bulk and frozen to be used on those super busy days.
If you have a fussy eater, it may be best to try new things once a week to get them used to any changes being made.
Discussing why it is important to make healthier choices and involving your child by letting them make some decisions can be one way to get them to try new foods.
Lunch Box Ideas
If you want to think out of the box but can’t get past the cheese and vegemite sandwich, here are some great resources packed with different suggestions and healthy alternatives.
I love the lunch box builder and the healthy swaps. This could be a fun way to get your kids to choose the healthier and also tastier version of their lunches.
Back to the smoothies – these can be a quick and easy breakfast alternative, a snack or a lunch box favourite.
If you have any questions about the above info, our Dietitian Jasmine Wolfe is available for consultations every Thursday.