With a new school year beginning soon, now’s the perfect time to create healthy habits for both you and your family! With approximately 275 lunches per child being sent to school each year, it comes as no surprise that organising lunches is a stressful task! But it doesn’t have to be. It is possible to have fun, whilst ensuring your kids are getting the right nutrients they need to take on the rest of the day. So what can you do? Here are a few ideas:
Spice it up!
Before you go throwing a few chilies into the kid’s yoghurt, I don’t literally mean spice it up! However variety is the spice of life, and you can make each lunch and snack break more interesting by alternating the foods you add to the lunch box. It doesn’t have to be a drastic change, try alternating the fillings on a wrap or sandwich, or swapping what fruit you put in. Add more colour, more textures; expand their taste-bud horizon! (Carambola or starfruit is an easy and delicious fruit to eat, and when you cut it, you get little stars!!) Not only does this make each day that bit more exciting for your young one when they open their lunchbox, it also increases the range of nutrients they obtain. Give this idea a go, and you’ll see an empty lunchbox returning home each day!
Can you handle it?
Thinking back to when I was at school … I loved food that was easy to eat and no mess! Sure I was a kid, but who wants to get their hands all sticky AND then have to waste PRECIOUS time washing their hands before playing tag with their friends? Not me! I was lucky in that mum often had ingenious (although probably not original) ideas that made lunchtimes easier and mess-free for me so I had more time to play. In saying this, a few things that you could consider when packing a lunch include:
Planning is the first step towards success
So, I bet you’re probably sitting here thinking that varying and thoughtfully preparing what’s in the lunch box each day is an unachievable task for the long term. Well it is.
Unless you have a PLAN!
Jotting down what the meals are going to be for the coming week may consume a few minutes of your time, but when that next week arrives and you have your prepared list of foods to buy and what to pack… You’ll be thanking yourself and your wallet! Planning is a great habit to get into, and a great way to involve the kids!
Rally the Troops!
Getting the kids to sit down with you and discuss what they would like to see in their lunchbox is a great way to make them feel involved and important! Obviously remember you have the final say if all they want is choc-chip muffins and roll-ups! Doing this also fits perfectly into your weekly planning schedule!
Involving the kids in the preparation of their lunch can also be a great way to get them involved, teach them basic hygiene and culinary skills and you never know … you may reveal a junior masterchef!
Okay, so what comprises a healthy lunchbox?
Ideally, a nutritious lunchbox should contain four groups:
1. The main lunch source
2. A core snack (vegetables, air popped popcorn, custard, yoghurt and cheese are some examples)
3. A piece of fruit (remember the tips above)
4. A bottle of water (and a small (<200ml) 99% fruit juice as a treat)
The Cancer Council recommends using wholegrain bread varieties, reduced-fat dairy, seasonal fruit and vegetables, and steering clear from processed meats.
A quick note on food safety:
With all the brilliant ideas mentioned above, none of it would be useful if safe food handling, preparation and storage aren’t considered. Placing an ice-brick, frozen water bottle or freezing a tub of yoghurt will help to keep the cool things cool and prevent bacteria and other nasties from making your child sick. Using an insulated lunch box or cooler bag will keep food cool much easier. If the kids are helping you in the kitchen preparing their delicious lunches, teach them safe food habits by allowing them to wash and dry fruits and vegetables. Teaching correct hand washing techniques and correct knife skills (if they are old enough) are also important.
Lunch Time Winners!
#1 Salad Sandwich
You will need:
Grate the carrot, slice the tomato and cheese. You can use avocado as a spread instead of butter or margarine. Place all items together and cut into triangles, rectangles or leave whole! Done!
#1 Avocado and Chicken Rice Paper Rolls
You will need:
Submerge rice paper roll in a bowl of warm water until it softens (only takes 10 seconds or so), gently place on a board and smooth out creases. Place ingredients in the centre. Fold in the sides, top and bottom to make a roll.
Fillings are your favourites, so swap them around!
#1 Pizza Crusader
You will need:
Place all items onto pizza base, bake in a pre-heated (fan-forced) over at 210OC for ten minutes. Allow to cool, cut into squares and wrap in plastic and freeze! Take out the day you want them! Easy meal to prepare in advance!
A dietitian with an interest in mind, body, skill development and empowering people to help themselves. After living a lifetime in the first 40, it is now time take it easier and let things be and help others get their their 'life'.
All information shared on the Healthy Eats site is purely for general interest. If at any stage you feel the information is relevant to you and your health it is strongly recommended you speak with your health specialist. Healthy Eats and its employees do not accept any responsibility for misunderstanding what is presented here, and it does not replace the care of your Doctor or Allied Health Professional.