If you are finding it difficult to create a lunch box you are happy with and wish to provide your children not only with the nutrition but also the skills to carry this out on their own, try some of these tips.
It can be difficult to organise all the chores and tasks and ideas that we juggle in our heads. Here we share some ideas and tips to help make it a little easier for you. It may also inspire your children so much that by the end of the school year, they'll be making their own packed lunchboxes.
It's a common tip, but a true way to save money and time when having the responsibility of making the packed lunches. As soon as dinner is finished, put the portions into containers and pop them in the fridge. You could encourage them to help re-purpose the leftovers - for example, a chilli you had last night becomes something they can put in a wrap tomorrow.
Tying into leftovers, but getting a little bit more practical - it could be a good idea to pre-empt some of your child's favourite choices. For example; a tub of prepared salad, cooked chicken, chopped fruit & vegetables, boiled eggs, healthy treats, small jars of mixed nuts, or even little pots of soup.
Making sure your little ones have a say and experience the process is incredibly important. The best way to learn is through practical and constant practise. You can teach nutrition, encourage independence, and an understanding of self-preference. A locus of free control aids children in wanting to help and be more actively involved. Take them with you to the supermarket and let them make some of the decisions of what they would like in their lunch boxes. Let them help with preparation and cooking, and they will be much more willing to eat the healthy foods they have prepared.
On an average day, it is recommended that school children should consume 6-8 cups of water - more so during hot weather or high activity. Let them pick their own favourite drinking bottle, if possible BPA free. It may be fun to set incentives or challenges encouraging them to drink the whole bottle at least twice during school. Kids are easily bored of water, so why not try adding bits of frozen fruit to naturally sweeten it up & add variety. Other drinks like smoothies and green juices would highly benefit your child's diet. They will happily slurp up a fruity colourful drink, and this way you can sneak in extra vegetables.
Use kitchen utensils like cookie cutters, child-friendly skewers and melon ball scoopers to make bread, meat, cheese, fruit and vegetable arrangements more aesthetically pleasing. To create more inspiration for the child's appetite you could even have themed days where the all the food relates to the chosen theme. Always try to make sure there is lots of vibrancy and variety.
Most of the store bought snacks available on the market lack important nutrients and use processed ingredients. There are some snacks that are easy to make and naturally give energy throughout the day. For example: energy balls, fruit rolls, yoghurt covered raisins and chia puddings. Some children really need their sugar fix, but it doesn't mean you have to buy sweets - you could make cakes that have vegetables in them like sweet potato, beetroot and courgette.
A healthy diet needs nutrients from all food groups, especially fruit and vegetables to keep their energy up. Here are some examples of each food group;
FRUITS: fresh, frozen, dried, canned, puréed, or baked fruit crisps.
VEGETABLES: fresh, frozen, or baked vegetable crisps.
PROTEIN: baked chicken, deli meats, hard boiled eggs, beans, lentils or nuts.
DAIRY: (if possible low lactose or non-dairy alternatives) milk, cheese or yoghurt.
WHOLE-GRAIN: pita pockets, sandwich bread, tortillas, wraps, rice, quinoa and pastas.
Once you've got into the hang of knowing what healthy snacks your children like and how much you need to last that week, you can start creating a meal plan. An easy way to start would be to do a 2-week plan - this way you would go to the shop fortnightly, and could prepare everything for the whole week on Sunday nights! You could even send the kids off with the shopping list to collect the items whilst you search for delicious treats for yourself.
If time is something you struggle with most, it may be an idea to look into the pre-made drinks and snacks available in stores. Avoid high sugar, high sodium, additive filled or saturated fat snacks. Take a look at our range of juices that would pair nicely with your lunch-boxes, no matter what age.