Our ‘how to’ guide to a healthy school lunchbox October 11, 2019
It’s back to school time again, which means it’s back to coming up with healthy lunchbox ideas that the kids will actually eat. We all want our little ones to thrive at school, and a healthy, well-balanced lunch is the key to keeping them fueled and focused.
Need some lunchbox inspiration? We’ve put together a handy guide so you know what to pack, how to save money on lunches and how to get your little ones involved!
A balanced and healthy lunchbox can be split into five main compartments:
- Breads and whole grains
This food group provides carbohydrates, which the body and brain needs for energy. Since this section is one of the main components of a lunchbox, it pays to mix things up to keep lunchtime fresh! Try swapping wholemeal sandwiches, salad wraps and rice paper rolls for chicken and veggie fried rice, veggie pasta bakes and chicken quiches.
- Vegetables and salad
As we all know, veggies and leafy greens are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Try pairing carrot, celery and cucumber sticks with a homemade guacamole or veggie dip like babaganoush or hummus. Tip: Sneak extra veggies and salad into a lunchbox by hiding it in a sandwich or in these delicious courgette, carrot and cheddar fritters.
Fruit is packed with health-boosting vitamins, minerals and fibre. There’s always lots of delicious fresh fruit in season to choose from, whether its berries, stone fruit, oranges, bananas, apples or easy-to-peel mandarins. Another option is canned fruit in juice, or dried fruit like banana chips, dried apricots, dates and sultanas.
- Lean meats and proteins
Lean meats and proteins are important sources of iron and zinc and also help with keeping their little bellies full! Chicken drumsticks, pork rissoles, fish cakes and canned tuna are delicious options, while boiled eggs, chickpeas, baked beans and falafel patties are tasty meat-free alternatives.
Don’t forget, growing bones and teeth need the calcium that comes from dairy. We recommend just putting one serve in the lunchbox, whether it’s yoghurt, cheese or a homemade berry smoothie. Tip: Freeze smoothies and yoghurt the night before. They’ll defrost and be perfectly chilled in time for lunch – as well as acting as an ice-pack, keeping the rest of the food chilled!
Save money on lunches
Shop in season to make sure you’re getting the freshest produce and best value for money. Be sure to check for what’s in season when shopping or fresh fruit and veg!
Bulk buy instead of buying snack packs and individual portions of foods – which can end up costing a lot more, stock up on all sorts of goodies from the bulk bins at your local supermarket or health store, including popcorn kernels, dried fruit and seeds and make up your own snack packs with the help of the kids.
Make your own snacks. Get creative in the kitchen to make lunchtime exciting without the sugar and preservatives hidden in packaged treats. Make your own bliss balls, fruit and oat bars or banana pikelets for a sweet treat, or savoury muffins, mini quiches or hummus as a savoury snack.
Get little ones involved
Let them choose their lunchbox. You want a leak-proof lunchbox with separate compartments, and it should be easy for your child to open and properly close. It’s also a good idea to find one with enough room for an ice-pack or frozen drink bottle to keep food cool.
Take them shopping. Write a shopping list with them, and give them their own miniature trolley or hand-basket to fill with their chosen fruit and vegetables. This will make them feel like they have some control over what’s going in their school lunch.