School goes back next week, which means it’s time to start thinking about what to put into the kid’s lunches.
With the overwhelming amount of information and recommendations on “what you should and shouldn’t” put in a child’s lunchbox on the internet, it’s no wonder parents report lunch box preparation as a constant battle.
The best way to tackle the school lunchbox is to keep it simple and focus on the five major food groups.
- Vegetables (grape tomatoes, carrot and celery sticks, snow peas, salads, capsicum, corn and sweet potato).
- Fruit (fresh, canned or dried fruit).
- Healthy carbohydrates and wholegrain (bread, wraps, rice, whole grain rice. crackers, rice paper rolls, noodles).
- Dairy and dairy alternatives (yoghurt, cheese, milk).
- Lean protein (eggs, meat, legumes and fish).
Get the kids involved!
It’s hard to know what they will and won’t eat, spending time on the weekend to flick through recipes and fun pictures or even getting them involved in baking and preparation of foods increases a child’s tolerance to new foods and teaches them valuable skills.
What’s for lunch? If your child is anything like my sisters and I, they wont eat sandwiches.
Fortunately, these days there are tones of recipes out there for alternative options, such as sushi bread sandwiches, wraps, dips and vegetable sticks, pikelets, pasta salads, rice paper rolls, zucchini slice and meatballs and dipping sauce.
Snacks – Fruit or vegetable muffins - these can be made in mini-cupcake tins for younger children and standard sizes for older kids. These are a perfect way of increasing their fruit and vegetable intake and they often freeze well for those days when you are running short on time.
- Multigrain rice crackers, homemade popcorn or pretzels.
- Babybel cheese.
- Yoghurt - the tubes can be great for little fingers and don’t require a spoon, they can also be frozen to help keep the lunch box cool.
Sometimes making snacks from scratch can be difficult, however the Foodswitch app can make choosing healthy store brought foods easier.
Keeping lunches fresh and safe – Children are at school for 6-7 hours a day, so it is vital that we provide them with delicious and safe foods to keep them thriving throughout the school day and after school activities.
- An insulated lunchbox with a freezer pack or wrapped frozen drink bottle, helps keeps food nice and cool.
- If you prepare lunch the night before- keep it in the fridge or freezer until just before leaving.
- Don’t pack food that has just been cooked, allow it to cool first.
- Perishable foods such as dairy, eggs or sliced meat should be eaten within four hours of preparation or being removed from the fridge or freezer.
If you are struggling for ideas for little lunches, try websites such as:
But most importantly, have fun with food; lunches don’t have to be extravagant, with simple often being best and something is always better than nothing.