Health & Wellbeing

How to step up your kid’s lunch game!

It’s that time of year again! Stationary, school books, uniforms and the dreaded school lunches! School lunches have definitely elevated since my school days, and some parents might feel pressured to create lunches akin to a master chef! However, what I will say is; think of what your child will eat… what they like, and forget what everyone else is doing. If your child brings home an empty lunch box, that’s a win!

Getting your kids involved is a good idea, but remember that you know best and try to encourage healthy food choices.

  1. Mix and Match: this means including something from each food group. Create a balance of protein, carbohydrates, calcium, veggies, and fruits. Think chicken, ham, cheese with wraps, bread, or crackers paired with colourful raw vegetables and juicy berries.
  2. Bento Brilliance: some kids like their food separate and not touching! Invest in bento lunchboxes or equivalent, which have separate compartments. It can create a beautiful colour display, but no food will contaminate another! Fill each section with different food groups: carrot sticks, apple slices, cheese cubes, pieces of chicken and crackers.
  3. Prep Ahead: life is busy, so if we can prep ahead, it can make our weekdays easier. On weekends, chop veggies, wash fruits, and cook pasta or grains. Store them in the fridge, ready to assemble during busy mornings. Or save even more time and prep lunches the night before.
  4. Dip!: Hummus, pesto, yoghurt-based dips, cream cheese and nut butter can make vegetables and fruits more exciting. Kids love to dip, and it’s a great way to sneak in nutrients. Just check your school’s nut policy first.
  5. Fruity Fun: Try mixing fruits for a colourful and delicious treat. Ideally, you want to include 2 colours in the lunch box- maybe a berry mix, orange and apple, grapes and melon or cucumber and peppers.
  6. Sandwiches: don’t forget the humble sandwich… it’s a practical and easy-to-eat food that can also be eaten quickly. How often have you heard your child say, ‘I’d no time’? Try different breads, wraps or bagels and go with what your child likes. Try to mix fillings so they aren’t eating the same thing every day, but again, go with what your child wants. Yummy fillings can include; turkey and avocado, chicken and pesto, tuna and sweetcorn or even hummus and falafel. But sometimes, the humble ham or cheese sandwich is just as popular!
  7. Snack Sense; snacks are an essential part of the lunch box and are often the more popular. Try to go with at least one colourful snack like fruit or vegetables. The other can be yoghurt, cheese or carbohydrate based. Homemade trail mixes with nuts, seeds, and dried fruits can be tasty. You can use popcorn instead of nuts if you are not allowed nuts in school. Plain biscuits, brioche, oat bars, mini fruit muffins, pretzels and breadsticks are all handy energy fuelled snacks.
  8. Frozen Fruity Treats: some kids prefer fruits straight from the fridge as they are a firmer texture. If you freeze grapes or slices of melon, they’ll be thawed but still chilly by lunchtime.
  9. Liquid Goodness: thermos or insulated water bottles can keep drinks cold or hot, so smoothies or soups can be an excellent option for those not keen on whole fruits and vegetables.
  10. .Time for Treats: depending on your school policy, surprise them with a little treat every now and then!

Remember, the key is variety and balance. Mix up flavours, textures, and colours to keep those lunches exciting. Plus, involving your kids in the process can make them more eager to eat what’s in their lunchboxes. But the fundamental goal is to make it something they will eat!

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