With the new year just around the corner, a few new changes are going to suddenly become normal in your life: a child in a uniform at school for six hours a day five days a week, with homework, new friendship circles and plenty of new bits of knowledge they cannot wait to share with you around the dinner table or in the car on the way home from school.
Another big change to get used to is no more Greenwood chef! That’s right, it is time to have the lunch box talk. With this very exciting new step in your child’s educational journey comes the new responsibility to make sure that they have the correct fuel ready for a day full of fun and adventure at school. Whilst this may all seem daunting, it is made easier once you have some ideas under your belt when packing a lunch box.
Choosing store-bought “kid friendly” snacks
It is really easy to get swept into the whole “for kids” marketing world, but that doesn’t always mean it needs to end up in your child’s lunch box. Most of the time, these foods are low in fibre and hide some unhealthy amounts of sugar, salt and other preservatives. Try to focus on home-made snacks like fruit, vegetables and dairy. If you are pushed for time and are buying store-bought snacks to accompany your child’s lunch just remember to have a read of the nutrition panel and ingredients list on the box – at least then you’ll know what is really going on.
If you are buying store-bought products, learn how to pack an almost sugar-free lunch box with Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar guide.
Eat the colours of the rainbow
With the unspoken best lunch competition between your child and their friends in full swing, it is easy for a child to pass on some food from their own boxes to their new friends. Easy way to rectify that? Make their lunchbox fun and exciting with variety and colour. You can do this really easily by offering different coloured fruit and vegetable sticks at every meal.
Pack in Protein and Vegetables
To give your child the sustained energy they need throughout the day opt for protein – whether that be some cheese, a tub of yoghurt or hummus at snack time. You can boost their nutritional intake by accompanying their meal with vegetables that are packed with vitamins and minerals.
Veering away from what they normally eat
Are you worried your little one won’t have enough to eat during the day so you over pack? You’ll most likely still receive a half-eaten lunch box at the end of the day, but to put your mind at ease watch carefully how much your children eat during the day on the weekend. This also helps with deciding what to pack. If your child loves picking at food gradually throughout the day, some little snacks will be more beneficial than a sandwich and a snack.
Variety week to week
This can be tricky. It is really important to listen to your child and remember they are unique. They may be happy to eat a similar lunch day to day, or they may get bored easily if there is not more variety in their box. Also see what is being left in their lunch box and don’t reprimand them for leaving it in there. It’ll help you learn what they like and don’t like for lunch which will influence what you decide to leave for them in the future.
Share the responsibility
It can turn into a great bonding exercise between you and your child to make their lunch together. By having had a hand in the preparation, they will also feel proud (and potentially more willing) to eat it!
During childhood, we are setting the foundations for what will become “normal eating” for our kids, hence why it’s important to keep their lunch boxes balanced with a variety of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, protein and healthy fats. Of course a sweet treat every now and then can’t be forgotten – we love packing homemade blueberry and yoghurt muffins!
Here’s some ideas for packing a healthy and balanced school lunch box
- Grilled chicken, lettuce and grated apple and carrot on a wholemeal wrap
- Multigrain roll with cheese, lettuce, tomato and avocado
- Corn, Zucchini and Cherry Tomato Muffins – we love to switch up our veggie combos here
- Tub of plain Greek yoghurt with fresh berries
- Wholegrain crackers and cheese
- Crunchy vegetable sticks with hummus
- A piece of fresh fruit
- Cherry tomatoes
- Boiled egg
Who would have thought lunch box prep was such an intense task! We’d love to hear, how lunch box preparation goes down in your house!