Another January almost over and with it the need for many parents to think about what they can pack in the school lunchbox to strike a balance between good nutrition and a lunchbox filled with foods kids will actually eat.
So here are some simple tricks and tips to helping make packing a school lunch a whole lot easier.
1. Keep it simple
Children, especially small children like plain, simple food. Sandwiches cut into small pieces with a spread or slice of meat or cheese. Cut up pieces of fruit and vegetables. A couple of crunchy snacks. There is no need to go to an enormous amount of effort and spend all day baking. Save yourself much time and energy and keep it simple.
2. Limit the snacks
Processed snacks are generally packed full of refined carbohydrates and easily overeaten. There are a handful of good options nutritionally including Carman’s Oat Bars, Table of Plenty Rice Cakes, Messy Monkeys, Harvest Snaps Baked Beans and Roasted Broadbeans. I tend to open packets and put a mix of a few different ones in the lunchbox, or you can add a packet. Ideally snacks will contain <100 calories along with 3-5g of protein or dietary fibre.
3. Add the dairy
Whether it is via cheese and crackers, No Added Sugar Yoghurt Tubes (Brownes Dairy, Tamar Valley) or a small chocolate milk (MOO have the least sugar), adding dairy adds much need protein and calcium to the lunchbox.
4. Add fruit and veges
Chopped fruit is a great choice but getting kids into the habit of also snacking on Baby Qukes, tomatoes, carrot sticks and cut up cucumber or celery helps to spread their vege intake throughout the day.
5. Keep it exciting
One of the key ways to keep kids interested in their lunches is to keep it interesting. This might be via homemade treats such as mini muffins or banana bread, a sweet addition or letting them pick their snacks or treats once each week but getting this right can be the difference between kids getting bored and complaining, and looking forward to opening their lunchbox each day. Nutritionally it does not have to be perfect, rather it needs to be consistent with a lot more fresh, unprocessed foods than snacks and sweet treats.