Children consume a third of their daily nutrients while at school, therefore it’s important to pack them a balanced lunch. Variety is not only important for your child’s growth and development, it’s vital for maintaining energy levels.
A balanced lunchbox should contain a variety of nutritious foods from each of the five food groups –grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy and protein.
Variety ensures children obtain a range of important nutrients, essential for growth and development, and keeps them alert throughout the school day.
WHERE TO START?
A good way to build a lunchbox is to start with the main or core item, like a sandwich, wrap or serving of pasta, then add your building blocks of fruit and nutritious snacks, always keeping the five food groups in mind. How much you pack will depend on your child’s activity levels and the length of their day.
As your core item, sandwiches are a staple in most lunch boxes but keep it interesting with different fillings they’ll be excited about eating. Make sure bread is wholegrain as this will provide them with more sustained energy than white bread varieties. Why not try flat bread, wraps or pita bread and try cutting them into rounds or shapes for something different. Here are some fresh sandwich ideas:
• Grated cheese, pineapple, lettuce and grated carrot
• Curried Egg and rocket
• Tuna, cottage cheese, cucumber and baby spinach
• Chicken, mustard mayo, celery and lettuce
• Ham, pesto, cheese and lettuce
Water makes the best drink as kids don’t need sugary cordials, juices or soft drinks which can lead to tooth decay if drunk in excess. Always pack a bottle of water every day. Freezing a bottle of water and putting in their lunchbox will ensure they have cold water all day in the hotter months, as well as keeping food cool. You may choose to pack a small reduced fat milk drink as a special treat once a week.
• A wholegrain sandwich filled with grated carrot, cucumber, lettuce and tomato; bite-sized pieces of watermelon; a boiled egg and a tub of yogurt.
• Ham and corn frittata with a salad of cherry tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce, a banana, cubes of cheddar cheese with wholegrain crackers.
• Chicken and capsicum pesto pasta, an apple, vegetable sticks with hummus and wholegrain crackers and a tub of reduced fat custard.
• A wholegrain wrap with grated ham, tomato, avocado and lettuce, an orange, a reduced fat chocolate milk and a packet of sultanas.
• A wholegrain pita pocket with curried egg and rocket, a banana, a tub of yogurt and slices of celery, carrot and capsicum with dip.
HINTS AND TIPS
• Having your children help make and pack their lunches generally means they will be more engaged in the process and therefore more likely to eat it, so let them choose items and make their own sandwiches.
• Prepare food ahead of time. Make some healthy muffins or a delicious frittata the night before or on the weekend and freeze for when you need them.
Variety is key. Kids will get bored with the same thing day in, day out, so try and be creative.