Photo from https://unsplash.com/@aaronburden

Photo from https://unsplash.com/@aaronburden

You’ve braved the shoe shop and the school uniform fittings.  Summer is on its way out and the kids are contemplating lessons again.  For parents of children who take lunchboxes to school, there’s a constant balancing act between what is healthy and what kids will eat.  Read on for tips on creating healthy and delicious lunchboxes all the family can enjoy.

 

The trick is to offer children lots of variety of foods rather than a variation on the sandwich each day.  Variety not only ensures children get a range of nutrients, it also helps avoid lunchbox boredom.  It needn’t be hard work.  For example, if you’re having pasta one night, make up a bit extra and create a pasta salad with a blob of pesto, some cherry tomatoes and chunks of hard boiled egg or tuna.  Vary the types of bread you offer, so one day it’s a pitta, the next it’s a wrap.  Avoid wastage by freezing bread or by using the same bread in the whole family’s lunchbox for that day.

 

Try to get a balance of food groups in the lunchbox each day by including:

  • Starchy carbohydrate for energy – bread, rice, pasta or other grains like cous cous or even quinoa can form the basis for a sandwich or salad. Try to go for wholegrain or half and half versions if possible for a fibre boost.
  • Protein sources for growth and development – make sure there’s meat, fish, egg, pulses or meat alternatives like tofu each day. That could be ham, chicken or beef in a sandwich, a tuna pasta salad, a slice of frittata or hard-boiled egg or a hummus and veggie pitta.
  • A piece of fruit and some veg – try to get 2 portions of their 5 a day into each lunchbox if you can and offer a rainbow of different colours each week. If you find the lunchbox comes home with an apple rolling around abandoned in favour of the other contents, then try presenting fruit and veg in a more appetising way.  Chopped up apple with grapes and a few raisins in a lidded tub or a few carrot sticks plunged into a pot of hummus are easy to eat and look delicious.
  • A dairy food for calcium (or calcium fortified non-dairy alternative) – yoghurt (or soya alternative), a rice pudding pot (try to get ones with the lowest sugar content you can), a few cubes of cheese with cherry tomatoes or cheese spread on a few crackers is a great way to get the goodness of dairy into children.

 

Here’s an example 5-day lunchbox that the whole family can enjoy!

 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

•Wholemeal pitta with sliced turkey, cream cheese and lettuce

•Cucumber sticks with hummus

•Natural yoghurt with frozen blueberries

•Pasta salad with 1tsp pesto, hard-boiled egg chunks and halved cherry tomatoes

•Rice pudding pot

•Small pot of strawberries and dried cranberries

•Mixed bean salad (try kidney beans, chick peas and lentils) with sweetcorn and flaked tuna with reduced fat dressing

•Wholemeal crackers with slices of cheese

•Slice of malt loaf with reduced fat spread

•Wholemeal wrap with chicken strips, reduced fat mayo and peppers

•Natural yoghurt with a drizzle of honey

•Plain popcorn with a sprinkle of cinnamon

•Multigrain sandwich with ham, cheese spread and thick cut cucumber

•Small scone with reduced fat spread

•Pot of peaches or pineapples in fruit juice

Include a drink each day, ideally water or semi-skimmed milk, diluted fruit juice or no added sugar squash

 

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