02.What makes a healthy lunch?
Eating healthy food helps children concentrate and learn, so a healthy lunchbox at school is vital. The best lunch is one that’s nutritious and quick to prepare, but also fun and easy to eat. Encouraging your children to be involved in choosing foods and preparing their lunch can help ensure that it not only gets eaten, but enjoyed as well.
You can build a healthy lunch with the following:
- A carbohydrate-based food is a good starting point for a lunch to fill hungry tummies. This can be bread, pasta, rice, potatoes (not chips!) or couscous, for example.
- Given that sandwiches are often the lunchbox staple, keep kids interested by using a variety of breads, including wholemeal, white, rye, rolls, pita, bagels, focaccia and rice cakes.
- Lean meat, tinned tuna, egg, tofu and baked beans are good high-protein foods for filling sandwiches, or for adding to food like pasta or rice salad. Importantly, most provide iron as well.
- Nuts and peanut butter are also good protein sources, but check that your school doesn’t have a ‘nut-free’ safety policy before packing them.
- Protein-rich dairy foods like yoghurt and cheese are also good sources of calcium, which is vital for growing bodies, especially for strong bones.
Fruit and veg
- For plenty of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre, try to include at least a serve each of fruit and veg in every lunchbox.
- Kids might find vegetables more interesting served as sticks with dip, mixed together with pasta, or as topping for a mini pizza.
- Pack fruit and veg that are manageable and easy to eat: fruit salad, mandarins or pre-peeled oranges, seedless grapes, cherry tomatoes or snow peas, for example.
- If you don’t mind paying a bit extra, look out for THE WIGGLES Applesnax and KIDEDIBLE packaged fruit in the fresh fruit and veg section of your supermarket, which have been specially selected for their child-friendly size.
- Don’t forget a drink. Active bodies need plenty of fluid to keep them well hydrated, and water is the best choice, although milk –– both cow’s and soy with added calcium –– is good too.
- Drinks can linger in kids’ mouths, so sugary ones may increase the risk of tooth decay; 100% fruit juice can be diluted. Drinks with added sugar that don’t provide the same nutritional goodies as fruit juice –– sweetened juice drinks, cordial and fizzy drinks, for example –– are best left out altogether.
For more lunchbox tips, check out: