This week is back to school, and this means back to routine for parents. Don’t get caught off guard with lunchbox prepping, providing snacks after school or after sport. Follow our tips to ensure your lunchbox is in tip top shape.
Choose a food from each food group
Various food groups contain different nutrients. You can help your child eat a balanced diet by providing a food from each food group. Choose options that you know they are comfortable with.
Pasta / rice
Peanut or nut butter
Sugar snap peas
Or any other vegetable
If their diet is very limited in variety it might be a good idea to make an appointment with a dietitian that can help you increase variety and make the diet more balanced.
Leftovers can easily be used for lunchbox meals: use leftover meat and serve on a wrap, sandwich or pita with vegetables and a fat portion like avocado. If your child likes potatoes, pasta or rice use this, add a sauce (basil pesto, napolitana sauce), add meat and top with vegetables and serve as a cold salad. You can also pack a deconstructed wrap: wrap with meat, sauce, vegetables separate. Your child can assemble the wrap or eat everything separately.
Get your children involved
Offer your child options to choose from. This will make them feel involved in the preparation of the lunchbox and they are more likely to bring an empty lunchbox home. You provide the healthy options and they choose which one they want to pack.
Plan, plan, plan
Plan your lunchboxes in advance and buy ingredients for the whole week. Portion snacks, dips and vegetables into smaller containers at the beginning of the week. This helps you to just grab and go in the morning when packing the lunchboxes. Cook egg muffins in advance and have tinned tuna or beans in the cupboard for days when there are no leftovers.
Make it interesting
Choose a variety of colours, textures, shapes and sizes to keep a lunchbox interesting and appetizing. Kids eat with their eyes – if a lunchbox looks boring they are more likely to take it back home.
Keep it cool
Fill half of various water bottles and freeze – this can act as an ice pack and an ice-cold drink later in the school day, especially on the warm summer days.
Limit processed foods
Avoid adding large amounts of sweets, chips, white bread, sweetened yogurt, processed crackers and juice to lunchboxes. These options have a high glycaemic index (GI). This will lead to energy being released too rapidly and can have an impact on concentration levels. These options can be kept for just before sport, when we want a quick release of energy.
Meal Ideas to get you started:
- Sandwich with protein (any option) and mayonnaise + fruit + yogurt + vegetable skewers with hummus
- Roll ups (bread, crust removed and rolled flat with pin), topped with tuna mayo and lettuce, rolled up and cut into 4 equal parts + fruit + vegetable sticks + nuts
- Leftover pasta, drizzle with olive oil to prevent them sticking (with napolitana sauce) and shredded chicken + fruit + yogurt + vegetable shapes
- Sandwich and fruit kebabs (bread with peanut or nut butter and strawberries) + cheese shapes + yogurt + vegetable sticks
- Potato salad (with mayonnaise and eggs) + meatballs + fruit skewers + baby vegetables (baby tomato, baby corn or sugar snap peas)
- Cucumber and cream cheese sandwich + salami stick + fruit and yogurt + cheese and vegetable skewers.
- Egg muffin + mini pitas with cream cheese + fruit skewers + nuts + vegetables sticks