Keeping the kids interested in the contents of their lunchbox can be an ongoing challenge. Balancing healthy choices with what the kids will actually eat can be hit and miss and result in wasted money and food – not to mention hangry kids after school.
We have put together some tips and ideas that will make the daily lunchbox filling routine easier, healthier – and more delicious.
Hungry, growing kids
While adults may be able to get away with skipping a meal, growing and active kids need nutrient dense and healthy food throughout the day to support their growth and also their learning. A hungry brain functions less efficiently than a well-nourished one.
Including something in your child’s lunchbox from the four main food groups is a great way of ensuring you are offering your child a balanced diet. The four main food groups are:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Breads and cereals
- Milk and milk products
- Lean meat poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds
Let’s get real
While in an ideal world you would be able to pack the lunchbox with some tuna, homemade sugar free muffins groaning with veges and bran, a banana, and a tin of creamed rice for refuelling for any after school activities, the likelihood that your child will actually eat all of these is slim.
The reality for most parents is that despite their best efforts, food comes home uneaten or, what was happily eaten one week is put on the ‘yucky’ or ‘sick of it’ list the next. Mix it up with a variety of foods and try not to repeat favourites too often (unless your child likes to know what to expect each day).
For an easy snack, Healtheries Oven Baked Twirls are delicious – and kids love em! They are a better choice than other main snacking/chip products because they have 50% less fat than regular potato chips and are baked not fried. Made with natural colours and no artificial flavours, preservatives or added MSG. They are also vegan friendly.
So easy to pop one in the lunchbox for a quick, healthy snack, Healtheries Oven Baked Twirls come in two delicious flavours – chicken and pizza.
Inspiration for the lunchbox
If you are lacking inspiration, toothpicks or kebab sticks are your friend! Here are some fun ideas:
- Cut and thread fresh fruit onto a toothpick
- Thread ham, cucumber, capsicum and a square of cheese on to a toothpick. Pop some bread squares on too if your child doesn’t like large servings of bread or hang a few pretzels
- Choose a fun shape of cooked pasta and thread it on a toothpick with cherry tomato, cheese and some ham, breakfast sausages, or salami
- If making wraps, cut into bite sized pieces and thread a toothpick through to secure it
More lunchbox inspiration
- Use a selection of bread products including wraps, pita pockets, mini bagels, and muffins
- Cold toastie sandwiches with baked beans or spaghetti
- Rice paper wrappers filled with sprouts, chicken, and cucumber
- Freeze a small container of yoghurt so it’s nice and slushy at lunch time. If your school is not a nut free zone, 5-6 almonds make a tasty, crunchy addition
- If the weather is not too hot, cold chicken nibbles packed beside the frozen yoghurt are a treat
- Mix up beans, carrot sticks, celery sticks, slices of capsicum, cherry tomatoes and include some hummus for dipping
- Choose grainy crackers and include cheese slices for a filling option
- Cut sandwiches in to fun and easy to eat shapes
- Mini pikelets are a great option for kids on the move
There are clever ways you can make your standard lunchbox fare healthier. Use wholemeal bread in sandwiches – if you think you are pushing your luck with this, use one wholemeal and one white slice. There are high fibre white options available too.
If using a spread, use it sparingly or replace with hummus or avocado. Choose low fat and low sugar yoghurt and if baking, experiment with using less sugar than the recipe states. Have a quick glance at labels and choose low fat and reduced sugar options.