What I have learnt with My Daily Food Allowance is, that living healthy requires thought and planning. Exactly the same applies when it comes to preparing school lunches.
Before My Daily Sugar Allowance - in my home - there was no such thing as a good conversation when it came to school lunches. It did not matter what I packed or how I packed it – most nights, part of my routine before making the school lunches was to throw out the uneaten or ignored - healthy components of that day's school lunch box.
It's tempting to throw in the towel when your kids don't eat well. For me, I am all about choosing my battles – and with the Battle of The School Lunch Box, this was a battle I chose to ignore. It was easier to pack the lunch box with things that I knew would be eaten, but what I should have been doing was focusing on teaching my son how to eat well, setting him up for a life of healthy eating.
It is a well-known fact that kids who are fuelled well during the day have much better concentration and energy levels. My observation since changing our school lunch box habits has been that it also helps to ensure that the child returning from a day at school - is not a little monster (loosely translated!)…due to hunger and flagging energy levels!
Part of our school lunch box routine now includes me as the parent taking on the role of teaching my son to make good food choices. Yes, my child has always dug in his toes over school lunches, but we are changing all of that, day-by-day.
Children like lunch box choices that are quick to eat, and easy to prepare. They also like being part of this at home. I now encourage my son to be part of the process and help prepare his own packed lunch with my guidance on food groups that need to be represented in each and every lunch.
What to put in those lunch boxes…
Just like any other meal the lunch box needs to be well balanced, and cover the food groups:
Fruit and Vegetables
Fruit is a good source of energy and vegetables are great for vitamins. Try to include one fruit and one vegetable option.
- Kiwifruit, apple, apricot, peach, grapes, fresh pineapple chunks, watermelon, or ½ cup- cup berries or 1/2-1 cup berries, container of stewed fruit.
- Cherry tomatoes, celery, carrot or cucumber sticks, avocados, mini salads, corn on the cob rings, sugar snap peas, fresh peas, gherkins
Protein Rich Foods
High-quality proteins offer more amino acids than other protein foods, so are considered more valuable sources of protein.
- Eggs really are one of nature's most perfect portable foods. Packed with protein and antioxidants, they satisfy hunger.
- Dairy foods are a great source of protein - Cheese - sticks or sliced or grated in sandwiches or with crackers, don’t buy pre-packed cheese slices, get a family block of cheese and make your own slices.
- Nut butters are a rich form of protein - check out the recipe and lunch box ideas in my daily sugar allowance.
- Left over meats from last nights dinner, beef, ham, tuna.
Kid’s can reap the health benefits of smart carbs by choosing carbohydrates full of fiber. These carbs that get absorbed slowly into our systems, avoiding spikes in blood sugar levels.
- Wholegrain breads, wraps or pita pockets.
- Homemade potato skins and air popped popcorn are carbs as well.
The options for sandwich and wrap fillings are endless, here are a few:
- Grated cheese & pineapple; cheese & vegemite; salad & cheese (or ham or salami); cream cheese & vegemite; egg, dried apricot & cream cheese; hummus with tuna & salad.
Or you can try sandwiches that are rolled with these fillings.
Getting enough healthy fats is essential for growth and development. Kids in particular, need enough good fats in their diet to help the brain and nervous system develop normally.
- Avocado or guacamole
- Hummus (make with lots of extra virgin olive oil)
- Nuts, seeds or nut butter (Bear in mind that many public and private schools do not allow in lunch boxes)
Try any of these five easy lunch box ideas for starters:
- Sprouted, whole grain wraps with avocado, carrots, cheese and hummus + pear + cucumber slices + air popped popcorn
- Cooked quinoa mixed with extra virgin olive oil, pumpkin seeds and feta cheese + sugar snap peas + grapes + cheese and crackers.
- Hummus & salad wholegrain sandwich + slices green apple and pear with nut butter spread + hard boiled egg + crackers
- Shredded ham, avocado, cherry tomatoes with fresh pasta + boiled egg + carrot & cucumber slices + home made bruschetta with cheese + watermelon slices
- Lettuce leaf wrapped cheese and grated carrot, + nectarine slices + air popped popcorn with butter + hard boiled egg + ½ cup fresh berries.
I really hope some of these could inspire you to make something special for your kids!