As school gets underway, it’s important that your children’s lunchboxes are full of healthy options to help with concentration, keep energy levels up, satiety, and to generally get them through the day.
Here are some ideas for packing a healthy lunchbox:
- Sandwiches and wraps are a great staple in any lunchbox. Experiment with fillings and include things like poached chicken, salmon, salad, tuna, banana, or get them to make their own at school by providing all the ingredients and they can put it all together. This also helps to stop sandwiches from becoming squishy or soggy. Also mix up the style of bread, try multigrain breads, rolls, wraps, pita bread, crisp bread or rice cakes. Another great way to get children to eat their lunch is to cut sandwiches into different shapes. Cookie cutters come in fabulous shapes and sizes so you can experiment with cutting whole sandwiches into shapes, or cut a shape out of the top slice of bread so kids can see what the filling is.
- Leftovers make good lunches for kids too. Things like pasta salads, rice salads, spaghetti bolognese filled with veggies and lentils, make your own wraps, meatballs, slices of quiche or frittata, sandwich sushi.
- Ensure fruit is easy to eat and not squashed otherwise you’ll find it comes back home in the lunchbox or the bottom of the schoolbag. Cut up watermelon and rock melon, strawberries, apple, blueberries, nectarines, and oranges. To keep apples fresh and stop them going brown, add some orange segments as the acid will stop the oxidisation process (i.e. apples turning brown). Make little containers of fruit salad as some children get bored with just one fruit option.
- Dairy foods such as yogurt and cheese are a great way to ensure children are receiving adequate calcium as well as a yummy addition to add to the lunchbox. Choose reduced fat options and watch the amount of sugar in yogurts. Single serve tubs and portions are easy to add and saves on containers going missing, spills and washing up.
- Veggie sticks are a fun addition to any lunchbox. Not only is it a great way to get kids to eat a healthy snack, it also ensures they are getting all their serves of veggies in the day.
- Muesli bars can be a good option. Make sure you choose low fat (particularly low saturated fat) and watch the sugar content. Most schools are nut free, so check labels and ingredients when choosing. A great and easy alternative is to make your own, but be mindful of portion sizes.
- Include a water bottle in your child’s lunch pack. For hot weather you can either freeze the water bottle to keep the lunch cool, otherwise include a small ice brick to ensure meats and dairy stay at appropriate temperatures. Give juices or soft drinks in moderation not everyday.
- Get kids involved in making decisions about what they’d like for lunch and also with the preparation. Kids love to help and be involved and will usually eat what they’ve prepared. Get them to put margarine on the bread or add the filling while you cut up the fruit, get them to get out the flavour of yogurt they’d like for the day, fill their water bottle or get one out of the freezer.
Article written by Danielle Dive (APD)