Preparing a decent lunch doesn’t sound too difficult, but when combined with ensuring homework is done on time, planning weekend activities, organising clean uniforms, after school sport, and your own day’s agenda, then organising healthy and yummy lunches every day can get hard.
Whole Kids founder Monica Meldrum knows the importance of healthy eating for kids.
Here are Monica’s top 6 tips for back to school lunchbox bliss.
- If it looks good, it’s more likely to be eaten
We all know that old saying ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ – well, when it comes to food, we often eat with our eyes before our mouths so consider how appealing your kids’ lunch looks before packing in their school bag.
My tip: Include lots of colour and variety.
- A handful of juicy red cherry tomatoes or organic strawberries
- Nice bright orange carrot sticks or grissini with bright beetroot dip
- Funky salad of rockmelon, watermelon and honeydew balls
- Flavour savour
Leftovers are one of life’s small joys. Sending your child to school with a delicious, nutritious lunch doesn’t get easier than this.
My tip: Simply set aside a small container of the family meal from the night before and it’s ready to go in the morning.
- An insulated lunch box or cooler bag with a frozen brick or ice block is essential to keep the food fresh until lunchtime.
- Meals such as spaghetti or lasagne get more flavoursome with time.
- Remember – The Food Safety Information Council recommends eating leftovers within two to three days after cooking.
- Plan in advance
It’s 8:07am, you’re about to leave home and there is nothing to give the kids for lunch.
My tip: Avoid the stress by planning your weekly lunches in advance and include a specific lunchbox list with shopping for that week.
Consider this checklist when planning your kids’ lunches:
- Something more substantial for their main lunch
- Something fresh like a piece of fruit or veggie sticks
- Something to drink, or a water bottle
- Something to snack on that can be enjoyed at recess or lunchtime such as popcorn, crackers or a fruit bar.
Buy enough for the whole week when you do your grocery shopping. You could even create a Family Meal Plan for convenience and future planning.
- Keep it interesting
Variety is the spice of life, so keeping several options in the pantry and avoiding the same old ‘Vegemite sandwich and a muesli bar’ lunchbox routine day in, day out is a good way to ensure kids are excited about their lunch.
My Tip: No need to reinvent the wheel on a daily basis, but definitely worth keeping some interesting ideas up your sleeve for when the usual “go to foods” just won’t cut it.
- Keeping some yoghurts or Frooshies in the freezer are great as a quick and easy additional lunchtime treat as they will defrost throughout the day.
- Mini quiches, healthy savoury muffins, zucchini slice or sweet corn fritters can all be cooked in batches to use in lunchboxes for ‘something different’.
Including a non-food item in your kids’ lunchbox can brighten their day and make lunchtime exciting.
My tip: This one is definitely better for younger kids!
Here are some:
- A special note from mum
- A joke or a sticker
- A ‘voucher’ redeemable for a treat after school (doesn’t have to be food related. Think excursions, buying a new book, or spending longer at the playground).
Easy ways to add a fun touch without too much time or expense.
- Involve the kids
You don’t have to do this alone! Let your kids choose their own lunchbox and water bottle at the start of the school year; let it be something they love and you’ve won half the battle already.
My Tip: Talk about it and discuss as a family.
Sitting down with them and discussing things like:
- What they would like to eat for lunch
- What flavours they like and don’t like
- Why it’s important to eat a good lunch before playing
Talking with your kids about food and then helping them make some choices around what’s healthy (and easy to prepare) make it a win-win for all.
For further information or tips on packing your kids lunchbox, try the Better Health Victoria channel: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/lunch-box-tips
The Australian Guide for Healthy Eating is an important nutrition education tool for kids in primary and secondary schools and was developed by the Australian Government. To view, visit: http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-guide-healthy-eating
Choosing quality snack foods with no additives can be difficult. Whole Kids products are 100% organically certified and include no nasty additives or added sugar, so they are perfect lunchtime snacks – you know that even when your kids are not with you, they’re eating healthy. http://www.wholekids.com.au
The Go For 2 and 5 campaign is a great source of information including different ways to add more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Visit their website for more: http://www.gofor2and5.com.au