We’ve had a summer free of routine, getting up early & putting lunchboxes together.  Here’s a few pointers to get you started with making healthy lunches for the new school year.

Some challenges parents face when it comes lunches:

  • Pressed for time as parents to make lunch
  • Not enough time given to eat school – uneaten food comes home in the lunchbox
  • Given tricky to eat foods or take too long to eat e.g. peeling a satsuma takes nearly 10 mins for a kid to do or eating an apple is a very slow process!
  • Lack of ideas – stuck in the ham sandwich rut

How do we keep creating healthy lunches day in day out

  • Involving the kids with making the lunch is key – empower kids to make healthier choices and feel a sense of control and more likely to actually eat it!
  • Create a handy list of ideas you can keep a stock of these items
  • Start making lunch the night before, show & teach about what goes into a nutritious lunch – no time or patience in the morning!
  • Helping with shopping & making of lunch makes kids aware of what different nutrients foods contain & which foods make them grow or stop them getting sick or give energy.
  • We often hear kids say ‘uh I don’t like that’ – but don’t forget kid’s taste buds change every few years so keep introducing new foods.
  • Also have the confidence as a parent to put a new food into the lunchbox – you may be surprised that it gets eaten
  • Sometimes when you present a food differently it might be eaten better – sandwich as a kebab – cut bread into squares and chop up peppers, cucumber and place on skewer

Key components of a school lunch – think balance think 1, 2, 3

  1. Carbohydrate for fuel needed for growing and playing and learning

  • Go for wholegrains (>3g fibre /100g) which keep kids fuller for longer and break down slowly so they basically release energy slowly.
  • Vary these carbs from wraps to bagels to taco shells to pitta pockets. I love the whole wheat stand & stuff soft tortillas (called boats in our family!) or taco shells are great too
  • If your kid really doesn’t like the bready kind of options put in a little bag of dried cereal like mini shredded wheat / shreddies / branflakes.
  • If you are putting packaged or processed foods into a lunchbox really you want to be looking at the food label and recognise the first 3 ingredients to be real food ingredients
  • Some kids might even bring couscous or pasta for lunch with salad veggies in there.

 

  1. Protein needed for growth but will also help keep kids fuller for longer –

  • Processed meats are higher in salt so going for what you’ve cooked yourself is better option such as leftovers from a cooked chicken or your own cooked ham.
  • Turkey, roast beef or ham roll ups
  • Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet so if your kids will eat hard boiled eggs they’re a great source of iron, protein and many vitamins. You can boil several for the week and use them on their own or as part of a sandwich
  • 2 tbsp of hummus (bought or homemade) counts as a protein source & is a good option with raw veggie sticks

 

  1. Fruit / veggies – hugely important as they give crunch and colour and are bursting with nutrients –

  • Think about what your kid likes put them into bite size pieces. Studies have found that when children have something to dip their veggies into they’re more likely to eat them.
  • Dried apricots are also a huge hit with my kids – not only are they super sweet but they also have calcium, iron, fibre and potassium

Dairy for calcium for growing bones.

  • Such as yoghurt or Baby Bell or some schools give cartons of milk as part of lunch which is an excellent way to get the calcium & protein.
  • Freeze the yoghurt overnight and pop it in the lunchbox in the morning and by the time it gets to break time it will be defrosted but still cold.
  • Go for plain, natural or Greek yoghurt with <6g sugar/100g or flavoured yoghurt <10g sugar/100g

Some schools have treat day!

If you are going for sweets or chocolate, think about the portion – a fun size bar is plenty or divide a small bag of jellies between two kids in the family

Other healthier treat options are fruit loaf, banana muffins (recipe attached), a plain bun, banana bread, sugar free jelly pot, low fat custard, popcorn

Drinks & hydration

Also vitally important is that kids are kept well hydrated to prevent headaches and help improve concentration. Kids need to drink 8 cups of fluid per day (about 1600ml/d). Water and milk best choices.

 

Ideas – forget fancy Pinterest worthy lunches – keep it simple

  • Turkey hummus wraps with red peppers, watermelon chunks and popcorn
  • Pitta pockets or mini bagels filled with their favourite filling
  • Soft tortilla boasts stuffed with cheese and ham and lettuce