You might have heard about the mother of a kindergartener in Australia recently being ‘shamed’ for putting a piece of homemade chocolate slice in her child’s lunch box. A note came home with the child later that day stating ‘Your child has chocolate slice from the Red Food category today. Please choose healthier foods for Kindy.’
Now without getting into whether this should have happened or not – I thought it was timely to put a post together about different options that you could choose to put in your child’s lunch box.
Kids may just be going back to school this week or they may have been back a week now. The fact remains it is never easy coming up with new, exciting and hopefully healthy choices for your kids.
Kids are very busy little people. Constantly running around and burning considerable amounts of energy. They also have small stomachs. So kids need smaller serves of food. Given they have smaller stomachs, they also get hungry again quickly. So food choices need to be energy dense and of high nutritional quality.
Ideally we want some good quality carbohydrates to fuel their brains and muscles for learning and running about as well as some good quality protein and fats for satiety.
I am more than aware that there is often a lot of pressure to make lunches that look like all of the kids’ friends, but this may mean compromising nutritionally. Therefore I would suggest trying to stick to just one or two packaged food items a week as a special treat (you may find after a while your child no longer thinks of these packaged foods as ‘treats!)
So what should be included?
First of all it’s a good idea to invest in a great lunch box. Think ones with individual compartments so thousands of bits of Glad Wrap are not needed and one which is insulated to keep foods cool or warm as needed. The Lunchbox Queen has some great options.
Whilst a sandwich made with wholegrain bread and filled with protein and vegetables can be a great choice – it doesn’t have to be the staple. Kids get bored with the same thing. Instead of regular bread try wholegrain pitas or wraps for something different. Cut wraps like you would sushi – making it a little more interesting. You can often pack a lot more in a pita than you can a couple of pieces of bread. Pitas can also be turned into mini pizzas or quesadilla type meals.
Keep plenty of options in the box, chicken drumsticks, boiled eggs, cheese, beef jerky or biersticks and full fat yoghurt (try to avoid ones with a lot of added sugars in them) will provide plenty of protein.
Kids don’t want to spend their precious lunch times peeling fruits or spending ages crunching through a massive apple, so to avoid fruits coming back bruised and uneaten, try peeling what you can and chopping up fruits and vegetables into easy to manage pieces. Offering a small pottle of salsa, hummus, nut butter or plain yoghurt based dip will often make vege sticks more appealing to eat. You could also try threading cherry tomatoes, cheese and other cut vegetables onto kebab sticks for something a bit different.
If at all possible, involve your child in the decision making process – offering two or three healthy choices so that they feel involved and therefore a sense of ownership about their lunches. Get them involved in the kitchen with making lunches as well. It’s a great idea to get kids stuck in with preparing food from an early age, helping to develop skills that many kids are currently missing out on. Set aside some weekend time to make some lunch box fillers. Mini egg frittatas, savoury muffins and loaves with heaps of veges, and fritters can all make good choices. They can also be frozen and pulled out of the freezer when needed.
Involvement will hopefully result in more food eaten for your child and less stress and worry for you wondering if your child will eat today.
If you enjoyed this post, make sure you share this post and head to my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more great healthy eating ideas!