The summer holidays have come to an end, uniforms are ready, books covered (the worst job!), and school bags are packed. Now it’s time to stock the cupboard with some lunch box friendly foods. Packing a balanced lunchbox will provide the fuel your kids need to get through a big school day and avoid the brain drain! Plus, around a third of food is consumed at school – so it’s a great opportunity to get some serves of the five key food groups in!
Things to include:
1. Vegetables – depending on your child’s age, kids need between 2.5 – 5 serves of veggies per day! Vegetables provide us with key vitamins, minerals and fibre – which keeps us full and helps our digestive system stay healthy. Include some chopped up veggies sticks with a dip or some cheese and add some salads to sandwiches or a wrap. 2. Fruit provides us with tummy filling fibre. We need two serves a day, so aim to include one serving in the lunchbox. 3. Protein – to keep little tummies full and satisfied. Think chicken, meat or fish on a sandwich/wrap, a tin of tuna or salmon, a boiled egg, some nuts and seeds (if allowed) or some lentils and beans. Aim to include 1-2 options here depending on your child’s age and hunger. 4. Dairy – an excellent source of calcium, which is important for growing bones, plus a source of protein, making it a filling snack. Include some yoghurt or some cheese with crackers or veggie sticks. Or even a small unflavoured milk popper. 5. Carbohydrates – the ultimate brain food! Aim to include wholegrain carbohydrate sources for lasting energy such as multigrain or wholemeal bread/ wraps, fruit or wholegrain crackers. Planning ahead: School mornings can be stressful, spending time on the weekend preparing some lunchbox goodies will make the morning routine much easier and you can even get the kids involved.
1. Bake an egg and zucchini slice or some savoury muffins (see our picnic bread recipe for some inspiration)
2. Boil some eggs and leave in the shell for a quick snack
3. Pre chop vegetables and fruits – most will keep well in an air tight container. You can even leave them in a jar covered in water in the fridge, this will ensure they stay crisp and not dry out.
4. Pre cut meats for sandwiches
Packaged options: In an ideal world it’d be great to make everything from scratch and have the perfect lunchbox– but reality is, not everyone has the time (or patience in the kitchen!). When choosing packaged foods, aim to choose those that are less processed. Some examples:
· Cheese / Cheese sticks
· Tins of tuna/salmon
· Rice crackers and rice cakes
· Air popped popcorn
· Trail/nut mix (if nuts are allowed)
· Muesli and Nut Bars (Nice and Natural or Barley + are great options)
· Dips such as hummus
· Diced or pureed fruit
· Baked beans
What’s your lunchbox go-to? Let us know by leaving a comment below or on our Instagram or Facebook page.